Pune: Their campaign going completely haywire after a fifth straight loss, Pune Warriors would be desperate to make amends but they face an uphill task when they lock horns with the star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore in an IPL match on Thursday.
It won`t be an easy task for Aaron Finch`s boys as they are up against a formidable Bangalore side which boasts of the big-hitting Chris Gayle.
On paper, Bangalore appear to be the overwhelming favourites with six wins in 10 games, while Pune are languishing at the bottom with just two wins in 10 matches.
The Allan Donald-coached Pune side would be eager to forget the nightmarish experience it encountered the last time these two teams met on April 23, when Bangalore registered the highest team score of 263 and Gayle massacred the bowling to score a record 66-ball 175.
The Warriors have been woefully out of sorts, inconsistent in all departments. Their batting and bowling hasn`t clicked together and this is what cost them against two-time IPL champions Chennai Super Kings yesterday, when they lost by 37 runs.
Chasing a target of 165 against Chennai, Pune lost the plot by losing three quick wickets at the start and never recovered from there.
Their batting is yet to fire in unison and barring captain Aaron Finch`s three half-centuries, no other Pune batsman has scored a fifty so far in this edition.
Australian all-rounder Steve Smith has chipped in with useful contributions and has scored 155 in six matches.
Wicket-keeper batsman Robin Uthappa has been dismissed after getting an eye in and the opener would be eager to get a big score to provide his team a platform.
Flamboyant left-hander Yuvraj Singh hasn`t fired with the bat in this edition and has logged just 140 runs in his seven matches at an average of 23.33.
Their poor death bowling has been hurting them and Pune
gave away 62 runs in the last five overs in their previous match against Chennai and conceded 63 off their last five overs against a struggling Delhi Daredevils side on Sunday.
But they will take heart from the fact that pacers Kane Richardson and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bowled a fiery spell initially in the previous match, with the Australian getting rid of the dangerous Michael Hussey early on. Leg-spinner Rahul Sharma also partnered the duo well.
Ashok Dinda has been expensive throughout but has picked up the most wickets for his side, 10 in as many matches at an average of 35.70.
On the other hand, in the days after defeating Pune by 130 runs, Bangalore have lost two games in a row and the visitors would be keen to get back to the winning ways.
Bangalore have won all their matches at home and they would try to shrug off the tag of not being able to win the away games by securing a victory at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium here.
Although they are in a good position, RCB will be desperate to return to winning ways as they know one more defeat will not only affect their momentum but also change things around in quick time.
Gayle has amassed 484 runs and is the leading run-scorer in the tournament and Pune are well aware of his hard-hitting abilities, having been on the receiving end once.
Bangalore would be hoping for a similar show from the Jamaican to keep them in hunt for a berth in the play offs.
Skipper Virat Kohli has been in good touch with 366 runs under his belt, while the visitors also boast of Tillakaratne Dilshan and A B de Villiers up their ranks.
Dilshan hasn't performed with the bat so far and was
dropped in the previous game against Rajasthan Royals, which Bangalore lost by four wickets.
The bowling attack is relatively young and experienced pacers -- Vinay Kumar, R P Singh and Ravi Rampaul -- have been unable to restrict the opposition batsmen in the last two games.
Kumar has been the go to bowler for the captain and has scalped 15 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 20.60.
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (captain), Angelo Mathews, Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), A B De Villiers, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Andrew McDonald, Arun Karthik, Cheteshwar Pujara, Chris Gayle, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, Daniel Vettori, Harshal Patel, Jaidev Unadkat, K P Appanna, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Moises Henriques, Murali Kartik, Muttiah Muralitharan, Pankaj Singh, Prasanth Parameswaran, R Vinay Kumar, Ravi Rampaul, Rudra Pratap Singh, S Aravind, Sandeep Warrier, Saurabh Tiwary, Sheldon Jackson, Sunny Sohal, Syed Mohammad, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Vijay Zol, Zaheer Khan.