Pune, RCB eye return to winning ways (Preview)

Pune, April 21 (IANS) Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will aim to return to winning ways when they meet in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Friday.

Both teams started off in promising fashion by winning their respective opening matches, but lost their way thereafter with back to back defeats. A win on Friday will be crucial in getting their campaign back on track.

Both teams are on one point each after identical records of one win and two defeats. But Pune are at the fifth spot on the points table, a rung above Bangalore, due to a better run rate.

Pune are struggling to get going in both batting and bowling departments. They have star-studded batting line-up which includes the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But with the exception of Faf du Plesis, none of the big names have lived up to their reputation so far.

The Pune bowlers have not done too well either. The pace bowling department saw a couple of changes in their last match against Kings XI Punjab with Thissara Perera and Irfan Pathan replacing Mitchell Marsh and R.P. Singh. But the changes did not bring about the desired results as they could defend a 150 plus total.

Ishant Sharma has also been largely ineffective despite his considerable international experience. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has also not been in his best form so far. However, rookie spinner Murugan Ashwin and experienced pacer Rajat Bhatia have been promising.

RCB also have an explosive batting line-up. They will miss star opener Chris Gayle, who has flown back home to Jamiaca following the birth of his first child. But the likes of captain Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson have the ability to tear apart any bowling attack on their day. The young Sarfaraz Khan has also been promising.

The bowling however, is a cause for worry. Pacers Varun Aaron, Kane Richardson, Adam Milne and David Wiese have been far too expensive and have also struggled to get wickets. The spinners have fared no better with Yuzvendra Chahal, Parvez Rasool and Iqbal Abdullah struggling due their lack of experience.

The squads:

Rising Pune Supergiants:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Jaskaran Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Albie Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Thisara Perera, Saurabh Tiwary, R.P. Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Ankush Bains, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.

Royal Challengers Bangalore:

Virat Kohli (captain), Shane Watson, Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Stuart Binny, Iqbal Abdulla, Sreenath Aravind, Kedar Jadhav, Vikramjeet Malik, Kane Richardson, Varun Aaron, Mandeep Singh, Abu Nechim, Adam Milne, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Travis Head, David Wiese, Sachin Baby, Lokesh Rahul, Parvez Rasool, Vikas Tokas, Sarfaraz Khan, Praveen Dubey, Akshay Karnewar.



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