Rising Pune Supergiant will have an opportunity to get back to the winning ways when the Steve Smith-led franchise takes on Delhi Daredevils (DD) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 match here on Tuesday.
Pune had a mixed start to their current IPL campaign, handsomely winning their opener against Mumbai Indians before going down to Kings XI Punjab in their second match.
Delhi, on the other hand, will have their task cut out after having narrowly lost their maiden tie against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by 15 runs.
The Daredevils lacked the spark in their batting having failed to chase 158 against RCB, with youngster Rishabh Pant emerging the lone bright spot for the side, scoring 57 runs, two days after losing his father.
The top order comprising the domestic trio of Aditya Tare, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson fumbled while opener Sam Billings failed to provide the fiery start expected from him.
All-rounders Carlos Brathwaite and Chris Morris, too flunked with the willow, when the team needed them the most.
Pune however, will have to be cautious dealing with the Daredevils’ bowling, which is spoilt for choice in the pace department.
Led by the experienced Zaheer Khan, Daredevils bowlers were right on their money against RCB. Both Zaheer (2/31), Morris (3/21) and Pat Cummins (1/29) were impressive with the new ball, while domestic season’s highest wicket taker, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (1/13) shone in the middle overs.
With South African quick Kasigo Rabada and Mohammed Shami warming the bench, the side looks a formidable unit against any opposition.
On the other hand, the hosts will bank on their batting prowess to take them home. With the likes of in-form skipper Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary in their ranks, batting is considered the strongest aspect for the Pune side.
Rahane, Smith and Stokes have been amongst the runs in the first two matches but they will be worried about the form of opener Mayank Agarwal and Dhoni in particular.
The home side’s bowlers, meanwhile, will still be licking their wounds after the onslaught from the Kings XI duo of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.
While Pune can boast of South African leg-spinner Imran Tahir’s brilliance in the middle overs, their main headache will be the opening and the death overs with the likes of Ashoke Dinda, Daniel Christian and Stokes (the costliest buy of this year’s IPL), being hammered all over the park.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (Captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (WK), Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes, Faf du Plessis, Usman Khawaja, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Daniel Christian, Ashok Dinda, Lockie Ferguson, Jaskaran Singh, Saurabh Kumar, Milind Tandon, Jaydev Unadkat, Adam Zampa.
Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (Captain), Mohammad Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Rishabh Pant (WK), CV Milind, Khaleel Ahmed, Pratyush Singh, Murugan Ashwin, Aditya Tare, Shashank Singh, Ankit Bawne, Navdeep Saini, Corey Anderson, Angelo Mathews, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris, Carlos Brathwaite, Sam Billings, Ben Hilfenhaus.