Mumbai: Just when critics started writing off Pune Warriors India, they come up a perfect answer as they beat in-form Rajasthan Royals to register their first win in IPL 6. But they will have very little time to celebrate as they face mighty Mumbai Indians on Saturday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Players from both the sides will be geared up for one of the most anticipated derbies this season. When it comes to the strength of both sides, Mumbai are far more superior to Pune on paper and off it as well. Mumbai will be high on confidence following back-to-back victories over two-time champions Chennai Super Kings away and Delhi Daredevils in their backyard after losing their opening match to Royal Challengers Bangalore by just two runs.
Apart from the fanatical support for Sachin Tendulkar and new captain Ricky Ponting, Mumbai fans will be excited about the form of their team's middle order. With Tendulkar and Ponting struggling for form, the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard have once again showed their match-winning qualities. Karthik has been the batting mainstay in these three games scoring 183 runs that includes a blinder of 86 from 48 balls against Delhi. Rohit also came in form in the last match by scoring stylish 74 and helping Mumbai cross the 200-mark. Rayudu (24 in 8 balls) too chipped in and looks to finding his feet back. Big-hitter Pollard, who played a match-winning knock against CSK also played a cameo and is doing more than enough to keep out million-dollar man Glenn Maxwell from the playing XI.
Having got on board the points table in their third match, PWI will face a stiff task against one of the biggest franchises at the fortress known as the Wankhede Stadium.
Mumbai's bowling looks in top form too, especially with the return of Lasith Malinga. Mitchell Johnson will be sharing the new ball with him and he has been right on the money this season. Spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha have also been impressive and have kept the opposition at bay. It will be interesting to see whether Mumbai go with the same team or they bring in rookie Jaspreet Bumrah in place of batting allrounder Rishi Dhawan.
On the other hand, having ended their 11-match losing streak going back to the 2012 season, Pune has risen following a seven-wicket win with more than an over to spare against the Rajasthan. The opening order worked for Pune this time with Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa stepping up the plate. Uthappa, who made a quick-fire 32, and the sheet-anchoring Finch, who made a crucial 64 in 53 balls in his first game. Yuvraj Singh then finished off the match in style with a stylish 28 not out. Marlon Samuels is still out injured and Mitchell Marsh on the other hand has been struggling with the form. This might force team management to go in with allrounder Steven Smith.
The bowlers have done well for Pune in all three games though Bhuvneshwar Kumar went for a lot of runs against RR but that was a one-off. Legspinner Rahul Sharma will be pretty geared up for this one as the Wankhede track will favour him with spin and bounce.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Ricky Ponting (capt), 3 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Rishi Dhawan/Jaspreet Bumrah, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Lasith Malinga
Pune Warriors India: 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Yuvraj Singh, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Abhishek Nayar, 6 Angelo Mathews (capt), 7 T Suman, 8 Mitchell Marsh/Steven Smith, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Ashok Dinda, 11 Rahul Sharma