Pune Warriors India will be looking to reaffirm their dominance over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their return leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL) season five at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Thursday. The previous match between these two teams went down to the wire, with Pune eventually coming out on top in a last-over finish. However, things have been a bit bleak for the Sourav Ganguly-led team since.
In their last match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers launched an onslaught out of nowhere to deny PWI a likely win. Former India pacer Ashish Nehra could not defend the 21 runs needed off the last over against de Villiers and Saurabh Tiwary after Gayle set up the chase with a 48-ball 81. After such a demoralising loss, it is very important for Pune to win on Thursday to put their campaign back on track.
Meanwhile, the road for the defending champions has been full of blockades so far. Despite boasting one of the best teams in the tournament, their batting and bowling has been found wanting on most occasions. Out of the five matches so far, they have been the victors only on two occasions and it’s high time that they put things in order as other teams like Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils threaten their supremacy not a little.
Having lost three of their five matches so far, another loss for MS Dhoni's men can seriously jeopardise their campaign.
The last match in Chennai was a high-scoring one, with CSK coming up trumps chasing down 206 against Bangalore. The memories of that match should do their confidence a world of good in front of their home fans.
Batting is the biggest concern for them as of now, with their top order due for some runs big time. Except South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, the rest – Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, S Badrinath and Dhoni – have been far from their best. Vijay has been the worst and is in danger of losing his place to Srikkanth Anirudha. To make matters worse for them, South Africa allrounder Albie Morkel has returned home for a few days to attend the funeral of a friend, and Australia T20 captain George Bailey is likely to play in his stead.
In comparison, Pune look much better, with Robin Uthappa, Marlon Samuels, Jesse Ryder all hitting top form. However, captain Ganguly needs to fire with the bat to keep the team's faith in him intact.
While it may still be relatively early in the tournament, it has to be said that Chennai desperately need a win to get back in the thick of things. Pune, who lie third in the table with three wins and two losses, however, would like to keep Chennai on the mat.
Chennai Super Kings: Faf du Plessis, Srikkanth Anirudha, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt/wk), S Badrinath, Ravindra Jadeja, George Bailey, Dwayne Bravo, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ravichandran Ashwin, Yo Mahesh
Pune Warriors India: Robin Uthappa (wk), Jesse Ryder, Sourav Ganguly (capt), Marlon Samuels, Steven Smith, Angelo Mathews, Mithun Manhas, Murali Kartik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Ashish Nehra