Time for RCB's Indian batsmen to fire against in-form Pune
The middle-order's tendency to collapse and the lack of fifth bowler are the two areas of concerns for Royal Challengers Bangalore ahead of their Indian Premier League match against Pune Warriors here tomorrow.
After the win against Delhi Daredevils, things haven't been going quite well for RCB skipper Daniel Vettori as his team lost three matches in a row.
The Kiwi is yet to find a pill which could get rid of his headache of filling up the fifth bowler's slot. The middle-order, especially the Indian batsmen Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary and Cheteshwar Pujara have not been firing on all cylinders on a consistent basis.
The lack of fifth bowler in the side has been used to the hilt by oppositions. The RCB fans not only saw this against Chennai Super Kings, but in yesterday's game against Rajasthan Royals who plundered over 100 runs in the last six overs. Vettori, however, was hoping Chris Gayle to play a part as a fifth bowler to either take wickets or contain runs.
But the West Indian could not live up to his expectations after he conceded 21 runs in his only over last night. The time is probably ripe for mercurial Sri Lankan opener Tillakratne Dilshan to get a chance against the Warriors tomorrow.
Even more, Vettori is very much concerned about the middle-order collapse in all the matches, except the opening game against DD in which South African AB de Villiers rescued the team with a flamboyant 60. The Indian batsmen would like to put their hands up and consolidate upon solid starts. Virat Kohli has looked good, but has not capitalised on the starts. He would look to reverse the trend against the Warriors.
Vettori, for a change, would like to turn the tables on Pune by opting to bat first -- provided he wins the toss -- on a strip, which he thinks, would help the batsmen and make life difficult for the team chasing. On the other hand, though the Warriors are missing the services of key players like Yuvraj Singh and Graeme Smith, the current skipper and former India captain Sourav Ganguly has been inspiring the team in this edition of the IPL.
Under his leadership, they have lost just one match, against Kings XI Punjab, but decimated Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings convincingly. The team is placed second in points table. Pune would be hoping to continue their winning ways.
The Sahara-owned team is capable of finishing on top of the points table as it has quality players at its disposal. Robin Uthappa, Jesse Ryder, Steven Smith and Marlon Samuels have fared well in this year's IPL so far.
Ganguly must be a very happy man to see Ryders coming into the groove with a magnificent match-winning, unbeaten 73 against CSK on April 4.
Ganguly would be even more satisfied if Manish Pandey, who had played a key role in IPL before for different teams, fires in the next match.
Pune also have a decent bowling attack with pacers like Ashok Dinda, who took four wickets against Mumbai Indians in their first encounter. Wayne Parnel and Ashish Nehra too, have been chipping in with useful contributions.
As far as spin bowling options are concerned, Pune have plenty of variety. Rahul Sharma, who impressed one and all with his good show in last IPL, has done well so far. He is ably supported by Murali Karthik, Samuels and Smith.