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Tough ask for Pune

If the start is anything to go by, then today’s clash between Rajasthan Royals and Pune Warriors India (PWI) at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium here is a complete miss-match. While Royals have really set the pace, with the bat as well as ball, PWI have looked out of sorts, at least with the bat.

The team think tank of PWI, led by head coach and former South African pacer Allan Donald has done its homework in three off days they have had, and have come up with a formula that, at least on paper, looks workable.


Pune Warriors India’s openers Robin Uthappa (right) and Manish Pandey failed to provide a flying start. PIC/AFP 

One of the biggest worries for PWI in their first couple of games has been the start with the bat, and lack of intent and aggression shown in the powerplay overs. “My biggest worry is that we have not shown intent,” Donald admitted yesterday. Manish Pandey, in particular, has looked out of touch and out of sorts on both the occasions. In all likelihood, Australian Aaron Flinch would replace Pandey at the top of the order today on a pitch described by Donald as “best I have seen here in over a year.”

“Flinch is aggressive player. For whatever reason, we have lacked intent in powerplay overs, and Flinch is someone who can give us the kind of start we are looking for,” Donald added.

Flinch would replace an injured Marlon Samuels in the playing XI, Donald informed.

Another factor that the PWI think tank believes can help Flinch is the pace of the Royals’ bowling attack. Shaun Tait and Rahul Shukla have some genuine pace, while West Indian Kevin Cooper has the ability to get bounce. “We all know Tait is an exceptional bowler. I was very impressed with Shukla the other night. They (Rajasthan Royals) have got some pace, and that can actually work in Flinch’s favour at the top,” Donald said.

Another reason for PWI to feel good about their chances is the return of Yuvraj Singh, who missed the game against Kings XI Punjab with a lower back injury. He batted for nearly an hour yesterday, first against the local spinners, then pacers, and later on against the bowling machine. The PWI team management has done its home work, as well as changes. Now it’s upto the 11 men that actually take the field to bring about the change in team’s fortune.

Mathews’ wishlist
>> He uses that blade to good effect
>> Yuvraj Singh comes back with a bang
>> Shane Watson doesn’t come good
>> Openers give them a flying start
>> Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowls in tidy fashion

Dravid’s wishlist
>> He and Ajinkya Rahane give them a flying start
>> Shane Watson gets fully fit to play
>> He doesn’t have to use five medium-pacers
>> Yuvraj Singh fails with the bat and ball
>> Kevon Cooper continues his form 

Watson powered Rajasthan to victory
Choosing to bat, Pune Warriors managed to put mere 125 runs on the board leaving their bowlers too much to do.

No batsman was able to make a significant contribution.

Among the Rajasthan Royals bowlers, Shaun Tait was the wrecker in chief as he picked up three scalps giving away just 13 runs.

The reply was a strong one by Royals. Shane Watson powered them home with a sublime unbeaten 90 which came off just 51 deliveries.

Royals won the match with 22 balls to spare.

Pune Warriors: 125 for six in 20 overs (Majumdar 30, Tait 3-13) lost to Rajasthan Royals: 126 for three in 16.2 overs (Watson 90*) by seven wickets. 

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