Pune: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be eager to break the sequence of reverses and get Rising Pune Supergiants' campaign back on track when they lock horns with in-form Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League here tomorrow.
Having moved to Pune this year from the banned Chennai Super Kings, where he enjoyed great success, Dhoni will be keen to replicate that in his new jersey with a bit of help from his teammates.
MS Dhoni with coach Stephen Fleming. Pic/ PTI
So far, it hasn't been a smooth campaign for India's twin World Cup winning captain, barring the tournament opener against defending champions against Mumbai Indians, which his side won comprehensively by nine wickets at the Wankhede Stadium.
The next three outings, including last night's against Royal Challengers Bangalore in front of the home crowd, ended in defeats for Supergiants. Not the result a team comprising Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane, besides Dhoni, deserves.
The overseas trio of Pietersen, Smith and Du Plessis failed miserably in the last game, and the Supergiants would hope for a much-improved performance from the batting
Thissara Perera and Rajat Bhatia, who almost guided RPS to a win yesterday with their brilliant hitting, will look to continue in similar fashion.
While Perera was the pick of the bowlers the other day, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin will have to be among the wickets for Pune to harbour hopes of a victory at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
On the other hand, led by discarded India opener Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata Knight Riders have been on a roll, winning three of their four matches.
Such has been their form that the two-time former champions continue to top the standings in the eight-team league.
Barring the defeat against Mumbai Indians, the Knight Riders had been convincing in their wins. Gambhir has been leading the team from the front and has held the orange cap for long. The left-handed batsman would be too happy to continue in same vein.
His opening partner Robin Uthappa blazed away to the third fastest half century of the season against Kings XI Punjab. If the two gets going, the task can difficult for the
Thanks to the opening pair's good run in the league so far, the middle-order hasn't had the opportunity to be tested. How the batsmen, following Gambhir and Uthappa, perform when confronted with pressure, remains to be seen.
Should they get an opportunity tomorrow, the likes of Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav, Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan could be tested for sure.
In bowling, Morne Morkel has led the pace department well, with support from Umesh Yadav. Left-arm spinner Shakib has been steady, and so was Piyush Chawla. Then there is Sunil Narine and all-rounders Russell and Yusuf.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautham Gambhir (capt), Piyush Chawla, John Hastings, Brad Hogg, Jason Holder, Sheldon Jackson, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Manan Sharma, Morne
Morkel, Colin Munro, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusaf Pathan, Ankit Rajput, Andre Russell, Rajgopal Satish, Shakib Al Hasan, Jaydev Unadkat, Robin Uthappa, Suryakumar Yadav and Umesh Yadav.
Rising Pune Supergiants: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), 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, RP Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Ankush Bains, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.