Pune: After registering a massive 130-run victory over Pune Warriors a week back, Royal Challengers Bangalore have suffered two consecutive losses while Pune too have continued their downslide to the bottom of the table with ease losing their last five matches.
At the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday, the teams will face each other once again for game 46 of IPL 6 with Pune hoping to shrug off Chris Gayle's nightmarish 175 and RCB hoping to arrest their two-match losing streak. With 12 points from 10 games, Bangalore are second on the points table with Rajasthan and Mumbai breathing down their neck. A slip-up here up would very well push RCB out of the top four.
Pune with four points from 10 games are virtually out of the play-off race and what remains for them is to try and better their last season record where they had finished last.
Gayle remains the trump card for Bangalore and with runs being scored freely in Pune on Tuesday between CSK and the hosts, the Jamaican would be looking to inflict more pain. Virat Kolhi too has impressed with the bat scoring 366 runs but the thin lower order has proved to be a bane for RCB. Due to Mayank Agarwal's injury, they have shuffled between Moises Henriques, Sourabh Tiwary and Arun Karthik but none of them have been able to put up a stand out performance so far.
Pune's misery with the bat can be assessed by the fact that only Aaron Finch has been able to go past the 50-run mark, that too three times, with the next best being Steve Smith's 41 against RCB. Yuvraj Singh is yet to step up bat in this edition and has logged just 140 runs in his seven matches at an average of 23.33. Smith has chipped in with useful contributions and has scored 155 in six matches but Luke Wright and opener Robin Uthappa have been big letdowns so far. Keeping Ross Taylor on the bench too has been a very strange decision taken by the Pune management.
The only plus for Pune has been Bhuvneshwar Kumar with the new ball who has taken eight wickets at an enviable average of 6.33. The inclusion of the highly rated Kane Richardson helped Pune get off to a good start against CSK. A fiery spell at the start from the two young guns is the only hope for Pune with the experienced Ashok Dinda failing to find his form with the ball. Rahul Sharma too has bowled well but has not got support from his fellow bowlers and death bowling has been a problem for Pune in the last few games.
The bowling attack of RCB have done relatively well with Vinay Kumar being the go to bowler for the captain scalping 15 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 20.60. But RP Singh and Ravi Rampaul have not been able to restrict the opposition batsmen in the last two games.
It will be the array allrounders that Pune have in their line-up against the batting prowess of Bangalore and even if the match does not turn out to be a run fest, at least for one team, an upset is very unlikely on the cards.
Pune Warriors: 1 Aaron Finch (capt), 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Yuvraj Singh, 4 T Suman, 5 Luke Wright, 6 Steve Smith, 7 Abhishek Nayar, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kane Richardson, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Rahul Sharma
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Abhinav Mukund, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers (wk) 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 Ravi Rampaul, 8 R Vinay Kumar, 9 RP Singh, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Murali Kartik