Pune: It was always expected to be a challenge for the two new franchisees at the IPL 2016 to settle down as a unit and get off the blocks quickly. And while Gujarat Lions have done remarkably well in that area, Rising Pune Supergiants have suffered three losses on the trot since their opening game win over Mumbai Indians.
Rising Pune Supergiants skipper MS Dhoni during his 38-ball 41 against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Pune on Friday. pic/AFP
It will be another opportunity for MS Dhoni and the team think-tank to get the Supergiants' campaign going, when they take on a well settled Kolkata Knight Riders here today.
RPS need to find the right combination
It's a bit of unknown territory for Dhoni as most of his previous IPL campaigns, with Chennai Super Kings, were off to a flier. The first challenge for the Supergiants is to find the right combination. With Kevin Pietersen likely to be out for some time, they have a chance of bringing in more balance to the playing XI. Dhoni hinted at playing an all-rounder like Mitchell Marsh or Albie Morkel in Pietersen's place.
That could mean more options at death, something at which the Supergiants struggled against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday night.
The hosts gave away 57 runs in the last five overs, one of the decisive factors in a 13-run loss.
And although Royal Challengers Bangalore scored 185 batting first, the pitch was slightly on the slower side. Supergiants played three spinners in Ankit Sharma and the two Ashwins. Together, the trio bowled nine overs and gave away 82 runs without getting any wicket. The plan clearly didn't work, and bringing in someone like RP Singh for one of the spinners can be an option for the hosts.
Minish Pandey down with chickenpox
Kolkata Knight Riders have very little to worry about, apart from finding a replacement for Manish Pandey, down with chickenpox. They have three wins in the bank from four games and posses one of the best all-rounded units in the competition. They have the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Brad Hogg and Piyush Chawla in the spin department, should the track turn out to be slow in nature again. They haven't allowed an opposition to get past 150 in any of the three games they have won, and it will be interesting to see how the Supergiants tackle the visitors' bowling. It's still early days in the competition, but Supergiants badly need some momentum to avoid a must-win situation a bit too early for their own liking. Today is another chance for Dhoni's boys to get things back on track. It's going to be quite a task though, against a formidable KKR unit.