Pune: The Sourav Ganguly-led Pune Warriors India would like to put their heavy loss against Delhi Daredevils behind and move on when they clash with Deccan Chargers, who are still searching for first win in their seventh match of the Indian Premier League's season five, on Thursday.
Pune go into the match as favourites against a lowly Deccan, after experiencing both highs and lows in their second IPL season. On the other hand Deccan Chargers have only a lucky point in their account, thanks to an abandoned match against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday.
Pune, who lost to Delhi by eight wickets in their previous match, will hope that they get back to winning ways on Thursday. They would once again rely on Jesse Ryder and Robin Uthappa, who made 60 against Delhi, to give them a good start, which could be capitalised later on by the likes of Ganguly, Manish Pandey, Luke Wright and Steven Smith. Pandey, who remained silent in the beginning of the tournament, made a strong comeback in the match against Delhi, scoring 80. Wright, on the other hand, can be a key man for Pune with his allround ability and thus the most appropriate replacement for the West Indian Marlon Samuels.
Deccan Chargers are fast losing ground in the race to the play-offs and are a clear second on form against Pune.
In the bowling department, the experienced duo of paceman Ashish Nehra and spinner Murali Kartik would have to take the responsibility against a desperate Deccan team. The return of Ashok Dinda is vital for the team as he has been a major contributor in the early stages of the tournament but all depends on whether he is fit or not. Dinda has bagged 8 wickets and holds an economy rate of under six runs per over (5.94) in the five matches he has played this season.
On the other hand, it's high time that Deccan get a win under their belt to gain some confidence. Deccan, who won the IPL in 2009, have clearly struggled in the ongoing edition due to the lack of form of their players. Despite having a good opening pair in Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Kumar Sangakkara, Deccan have not got the support they would have liked from their middle order. The likes of Cameron White, Daniel Christian and JP Duminy haven't been at their best, which has hurt the team a lot. And in bowling, it's been a one-man show in the form of Dale Steyn's aggressive bowling. Manpreet Gony and Amit Mishra have hardly performed as IPL veterans that they are now, which has left Steyn's good work of no use for the team.
Another worry for Deccan has been the below-par performance of their Indian players. Besides Dhawan on a couple of occasions and Mishra on another, none of the fringe players have stepped up to the plate. Parthiv Patel hasn't been stroking it at all while the other names - like Ishank Jaggi, Ankit Sharma and Anand Rajan - don't exude any confidence. So the lack of quality Indian players remains their bane in this season of the league.
In summary, to get their train back on track, what Deccan need is a collective top-class performance from the team, led by the big guns Steyn, Sangakkara, White and Mishra, or else they will soon be out of race for the play-offs. Meanwhile, Pune, who have been in and out of the top half of the leaderboard, would like to consolidate their position in the top-four with another two points in the bank.
Pune Warriors India: 1 Robin Uthappa (wk), 2 Jesse Ryder, 3 Sourav Ganguly (capt), 4 Steve Smith, 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Mithun Manhas/Ashok Dinda, 8 Murali Kartik, 9 Alfonso Thomas, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Rahul Sharma
Deccan Chargers: 1 Kumar Sangakkara (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Parthiv Patel (wk), 4 Cameron White, 5 Jean-Paul Duminy, 6 Ishank Jaggi, 7 Ankit Sharma, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Anand Rajan, 11 Veer Pratap Singh