Pune: Struggling Pune Warriors, with a question mark hanging over the fitness of their impact player Yuvraj Singh, cross swords with high-flying Rajasthan Royals in the Pepsi IPL clash at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday. (Agencies)
The Warriors have lost two matches on the trot by putting up a dismal batting performance.
On the other hand, the Royals go into their second away game after recording a clinically executed and morale-boosting 19-run victory over defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at home, their second win in as many matches.
Therefore, the Warriors are the underdogs going into the clash and their stuttering batting line-up, which includes proven performers at the international level like Yuvraj, Ross Taylor and Marlon Samuels, needs to buck up and start firing.
Yuvraj pulled out of Pune's first home game on April 7 against Kings XI Punjab at the eleventh hour, after flopping in their campaign opener in Hyderabad against new outfit Sun Risers, complaining of a sore back.
How and when did he sustain the injury is not known and in his absence, the Warriors were restricted to a paltry 99 for 9 which was easily overhauled by Kings XI.
Not only was Yuvraj missed as a main middle-order batsman, the Warriors were also handicapped without his clever left-arm spin bowling in the middle overs against Punjab.
However, things are looking brighter now as the dashing player is "feeling a lot better", said team spokesperson Deep Dasgupta.
The Warriors would be eager to get such a key player back on the park at the earliest after suffering successive defeats.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hogg, Brad Hodge, Dishant Yagnik, Fidel Edwards, Harmeet Singh, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Kumar Boresha, Kushal Perera, Owais Shah, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Shukla, S Sreesanth, Sachin Baby, Samual Badree, Sanju Samson, Shaun Tait, Sreevats Goswami, Siddharth Trivedi, Stuart Binny, Vikramjeet Malik.
Pune Warriors: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Yuvraj Singh, Abhishek Nayar, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Ajanta Mendis, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, R Gomez, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Aaron Finch.
Pune: Struggling Pune Warriors, with a question mark hanging over the fitness of their impact player Yuvraj Singh, cross swords with high-flying Rajasthan Royals in the Pepsi IPL clash at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday.