Already out of the race in IPL with eight defeats in 12 games, Pune Warriors would be looking to restore some pride when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders at the DY Patil stadium on Thursday.
With the victory of Kings XI Punjab, KKR’s insecurity has gone high as both the teams are sharing the same spot on the charts with 14 points with a little run-rate difference.
A win over the sluggish Warriors would ease their way to the play-off stage and a defeat for the Knight Riders would make their position shaky with Kings XI Punjab creeping up the table in grand fashion with a string of victories.
Thursday's match to be played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai takes on an extra edge with ‘Bengal Tiger’ Sourav Ganguly playing against his old team.
Ganguly would be eager to stamp his authority against his previous team and send a message to the owners of the KKR who discarded him after the first three seasons.
The Knight Riders' batting has revolved around five key players in captain Gautam Gambhir (312 runs from 12 games), leading run-scorer Jacques Kallis (358 from 12), Manoj Tiwary who has been the most consistent with a tally of four under 300 runs at a fine average of 74-plus, Yusuf Pathan and Eoin Morgan .
Kolkata's bowling has been sustained by spinners Pathan (11 wickets) and left-armer Iqbal Abdulla (14).
Aggressive Laxmipathy Balaji has done his bit with seven wickets under his belt but has also been expensive.
Senior Pathan can do the trick for his team as he will be the trump card for Gautam Gambhir. He is a game changer both with his batting and bowling.
The Warriors batting has not lived up to expectations and has depended a lot on Ryder (291 runs from 12 games) at the top and Yuvraj (319 from 12) in the middle order till Ganguly's arrival late in the tournament.
Robin Uthappa (252 from 12) and Manish Pandey (230 from 8), who missed the first four matches due to a ban imposed on them by the IPL governing council, have not been very good at taking full advantage of their starts.
Pune's bowling has also been unimpressive so far and apart from Rahul Sharma's 16 wickets from 12 games in the tournament at an economy rate of 6, there is little the team can boast off.
Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh (nine wickets from 12 games) are the other two bowlers, who have had a decent run till now but Murali Kartik (one wicket in six games) has been disappointing and thus failed to find a regular place in the playing eleven.
Pune Warriors: Yuvraj Singh (Captain), RUthappa, SGanguly, MKartik, AJhunjhunwala, Bhuvaneshwar, DJadhav, EDwivedi, GGaikwad, Harpreet, HKhadiwale, Kamran, MManhas, MMishra, RSharma, SRana, SWagh, SMundhe, IAhmed, JRyder, GSmith, WParnell, AThomas, TimPaine, CFerguson, MMarsh, JTaylor, JFaulkner.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (Captain), MTiwary, LBalaji, MBisla, RBhatia, SGoswami, IAbdulla, YPathan, SLadda, SHasan, PSangwan, LShukla, JUnadkat, RDoeschate, BLee, MBoucher, JKallis, EMorgan, JPattinson, SAhmed.