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Pune Warriors India will be playing for pride when they take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday evening. That will be a tough ask as Rahul Dravid’s men are yet to be beaten at home and are in contention for a slot in the top four of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013. However, the visitors will seek confidence from the fight they put up against the Royal Challengers Bangaloreon May 2 in Pune.
Addressing the media during practice at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, PWI coach Allan Donald said, “I think the comforting thing right throughout this IPL has been that we have played some extraordinary cricket. But I think our decision-making under pressure has not been all that good. But I love the way we fought back against RCB the other day. I thought Robin Uthappa was outstanding. He showed why he is a class player – not was – and nearly won that game with Angelo Mathews. So we know what we are capable of at the moment.
“Right from the beginning we have said we are going to focus on us rather than the opposition and not worry too much about where we are. But more importantly for me, it is how we stand up as a franchise, and show what a quality outfit we are, and that starts on Sunday.”
Asked if he it has crossed his mind that the Royals have won five matches at home, the former South African cricketer said, “Its’ crossed my mind very much. Thank you! We are in a position where we have got five games left in this tournament and we are here to play for a lot of pride, not only for our franchise but for ourselves. We certainly cannot worry about whether we are away or at home and records that other teams have at home. We have got to make a significant play tomorrow. We have to make a very big play and we know we are under pressure. We have got five games to go and we want to win all five of them.”
Asked if the former ace pace spearhead of SA hoped he had bowled in the IPL, he laughed and said, “I wish there was a golden oldies IPL. I would definitely fall into that category right now. I would take that. The IPL is a wonderful concept and I have always been a great fan of the IPL. I have great admiration for how skill levels have improved over the six IPLs that I have seen. I think what the IPL has done and Twenty20 cricket has done for Test cricket is something quite extraordinary. I think that’s what you see now, fantastic Test matches and fast Test matches. Run rates have gone through the roof and the skill levels too. There is no real respect anymore for good deliveries in Test cricket. The guys go after everything. I think it is exciting and it has done a fantastic amount for Test cricket. And that’s why Test cricket is right now exciting to watch.”
Asked if bowling was always this tough or if it has become tougher he explained, “I honestly think in Twenty20 cricket bowling has improved. I think gone are the days when you sit in a team meeting and you just go through the motions. I think, now because Twenty20 cricket is strategically so precise in planning, you have got to strategise very, very well. As we always call it, you have got to study the book for the exam well. Who you are up against and where their weaknesses lie. I think the overall skill of death bowling and being smart under pressure has really improved.”
Table-toppers Chennai Super Kings – the first team to seal their berth in the Pepsi IPL 2013 Play-Offs – take on the Mumbai Indians in Match 49.
Mumbai Indians have won six of their ten matches this season and are placed fifth in the standings. The team has not managed to extend their winning streak to more than three matches. They had won three matches in a row prior to their shock defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad recently. Mumbai Indians are locked in a mid-table race with several other teams and need the two points in this match more than their opponents.
Chennai Super Kings meanwhile are on a roll. They have equaled the existing IPL record for the most consecutive wins having won their last seven matches and will look to carry the momentum through the rest of the season.
Sunday, May 5, 2013, 4 p.m
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Dwayne Smith are the three Mumbai Indians batsmen in form. Karthik seems to be making the most of getting the opportunity of batting at number three, while Sharma has been undeterred with the additional responsibility of captaining the team. Since replacing Ricky Ponting at the top of the order, Smith has provided his team quick runs; in five innings as opener, he has scored 191 runs (including two half-centuries) and has set the platform for a formidable middle order. Question marks remain over the participation of Kieron Pollard who injured his finger attempting a catch in the previous match. If the Trinidadian does not recover completely, Mumbai Indians could face the need to change their combination.
Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni have won matches for the Chennai Super Kings single-handedly, while the likes of S Badrinath and Ravindra Jadeja have played their part whenever they have got the opportunity. With the ball too, CSK have several performers; Dwayne Bravo holds the Purple Cap, while Mohit Sharma, R Ashwin and Chris Morris have delivered wickets whenever they have been thrown the ball. Wriddhiman Saha is reported to be carrying a niggle and if he does not recover in time, Murali Vijay could be called upon to partner Hussey at the top.
No team has defeated the Chennai Super Kings more often than the Mumbai Indians. The two teams have met 12 times so far in the IPL with the Mumbai Indians emerging victors in seven of those matches.
When these two teams met at Chennai earlier this season, MI posted 148 on the board and then restricted the hosts to 139 to win by nine runs.
Chennai Super Kings have the best runs per wicket this season – 33.36.
MI hold a 100% record against CSK when playing at the Wankhede Stadium; the two teams have met thrice and the hosts have emerged victors in each of those three matches.
Mumbai Indians remain at home and prepare to host defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders next (May 7, 2013) and the Chennai Super Kings will head to Hyderabad to take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on May 8.