Ajinkya Rahane will once again look to give Rajasthan Royals a solid start. (BCCI)
Pune: Pune Warriors India have got off to a sub-standard start in IPL 6, suffering two heavy defeats against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab. On Thursday, low on confidence, the Angelo Mathews-led Pune will look to revive their campaign against the unbeaten Rajasthan Royals at the MCA Stadium here.
The batting has struggled so far for Pune and the team managemnet needs to sit down and rejig it in search of runs. Openers Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey are struggling to give the team a good start and Pune, in all likelihood, will bring in the talented English allrounder Luke Waright. Wright's inclusion will mean Mitchell Marsh has to be sacrificed. Marlon Samuels and Ross Taylor, Pune's two top batsmen, need to up their game against Rajasthan to give Pune chance to put their first win on the board.
The hosts will welcome their star player Yuvraj Singh back, who missed the last match due to a stiff back. It is baflling to see Australian allrounder Steve Smith warming the bench so far. Pune might want to bring him in as well as he can be a real gamechanger, especially with the bat.
Pune's bowling too hasn't fair that well so far. Still, though, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda are expected to share the new ball, with skipper Mathews as the third seam bowler. Dinda was hammered all over the ground in Pune's previous match but is likely to retain his place. The spin department will be led by Rahul Sharma, with Samuels also thrown in the mix.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, have had a dream start to their season with two straight wins. The batting unit performed exceptionally well with captain Rahul Dravid himself leading from the front with his match-winning knock against Delhi. Domestic talent Stuart Binny and Ajiyanke Rahane have chipped in with useful runs and look in pretty decent nick. Australia's Brad Hodge remains the key to Rajasthan's middle order after his crucial knock of 46 against Kolkata in their previous tie. Although Shane Watson is struggling with form he remains a threat with his ability to take the game away from the opposition single-handedly.
Rajasthan's bowling has been a revelation. An all-pace attack did wonders for them in the previous match and it's highly unlilkely that Rajasthan team management is going to tinker with it. Sreesanth and Shaun Tait should once again share the new ball and look to continue from where they left against the KKR. The duo were pretty economical and also picked up few wickets between them.
Siddarth Trivedi once again proved that he can be a match winner in this format, with his three wickets against Kolkata helping him win Man-of-the-Match award as well. Allrounder Kevin Cooper has bowled some quality stuff in the middle overs and has proved to be the difference between the two sides in both the matches.
Pune Warriors India: 1 Robin Uthappa (wk), 2 Manish Pandey, 3 Luke Wright, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Marlon Samuels, 6 Ross Taylor/Steven Smith, 7 Angelo Mathews (capt), 8 Abhishek Nayar, 9 Ashok Dinda, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Rahul Sharma
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Rahul Dravid (capt), 4 Stuart Binny, 5 Brad Hodge, 6 Dishant Yagnik (wk), 7 Kevin Cooper, 8 Siddarth Trivedi, 9 Sreesanth, 10 Rahul Shukla, 11 Shaun Tait