Preview: Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) will aim to shed off their inconsistent run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 on Saturday, when they take on a depleted Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), who are almost out of the race to the play-offs.
After back to back wins against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Mumbai Indians, the Pune side went down to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their previous outing, to be at the fourth spot in the standings.
On the other hand, last year's runners-up RCB have found the going tough this season, managing to win only two of their nine matches to be languishing at the penultimate spot in the eight-team table.
Virat Kohli and Steve Smith. Sportzpics
Going into Saturday's first double-header at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium here, Pune will bank on their in-form opening duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi to give the team a great start.
The middle order comprising the likes of captain Steve Smith, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary has the experience to take the opposition bowlers to the cleaners at ease. With all-rounders Daniel Christian and Rajat Bhatia the lower order batting can come in handy if needed.
In the bowling department, the young Indian pace duo of Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur have impressed both in the opening and death overs while leg-spinner Imran Tahir, Christian and rookie tweaker Washington Sundar can provide the breakthroughs as well as stop the flow of runs in the middle overs.
Meanwhile, the Virat Kohli-led RCB have their task cut out if they are to stand any chance of making it to the play-offs.
The flop show in all the departments against Gujarat Lions at home on Thursday will only haunt them more when they take the field here.
RCB's fortunes depend on their captain and his opening partner Chris Gayle's domination at the top along with South African AB de Villiers, who also failed to fire against the Lions.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Kedar Jadhav was the lone bright spot along with all-rounder Pawan Negi but that was not enough for them to get over the line.
RCB's bowling too looked toothless with the likes of Sreenath Aravind, Travis Head, Aniket Choudhary failing to impress. Samuel Badree and Negi managed to be amongst the wickets.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Daniel Christian, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Ashoke Dinda, Faf du Plessis, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Ajinkya Rahane, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (Captain), Sreenath Aravind, Avesh Khan, Samuel Badree, Stuart Binny, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aniket Choudhary, AB de Villiers, Praveen Dubey, Chris Gayle, Harpreet Singh, Travis Head, Iqbal Abdulla, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Tymal Mills, Adam Milne, Pawan Negi, Harshal Patel, Sachin Baby, Tabraiz Shamsi, Billy Stanlake, Vishnu Vinod, Shane Watson.
With inputs from IANS