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It has been one disappointing ride for the Pune Warriors India in this edition of the IPL. With just two games left to play, PWI coach Alan Donald spoke about how the team has been a well knit unit throughout the ups and downs in the tournament and looked forward to putting up two spirited performances in the remaining games.
“Even before the start of the tournament we discussed that this was a massive opportunity for the squad to prove their worth to a franchise that has been struggling over the last couple of years,” Donald said.
“One thing I cannot fault is that the team has stayed very tight throughout the competition though we have not produced the results. Hopefully in the next two games, players can produce results for Pune Warriors India and then for themselves. We need two great performances right now and hopefully they will step up at this beautiful stadium of Ranchi.”
Donald also said that as a coach he has tried his level best to motivate a group of players who have suffered more loses than wins in the tournament.
“As a leader of the group, I have tried extremely hard to motivate a group of players, but the toughest thing to get up from a dug out has been when you lose, which is hard to take. I have never been in such a position throughout my career and I can only try as hard as I can to motivate the team. I am still trying to find answers as to where we went wrong and I have never experienced a ride like this in the two IPL seasons we have had. It has been four games now and it has been a case of playing for pride. We are down to two, and it is up to us now to step up on Wednesday against KKR. We deserve to prove to the owners that this team can play.”
Rightly so, if you look at the team at disposal and see the quality of players in that line up, one cannot help but imagine how the team has had such a dismal run this season. Donald believed the marquee players have not performed to their prime which was so vital to a team’s progress. A special word of mention for Yuvraj Singh too was reserved by the coach.
“Yuvraj Singh has been fantastic,” Donald said. “He has kept up his attitude throughout this competition and he is a great example for everybody in the change room. There might be an argument that had Yuvraj scored, we would have won more games. But the bottom line is he has not scored and you cannot deal with it. A lot of our marquee players have not stepped up to the mark. You win the IPL when your big players step up and win you games. Yuvi has been an absolute legend in this IPL for us so far and one can only learn from that.”
And when Donald was asked about his assessment of young Bhuvneshwar Kumar ahead of the all important ICC Champions Trophy, Donald had nothing but heaps of praise for the medium pacer.
“I was very impressed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s skill levels since last year. He is in line for a long career in all formats of the game. He has had a long season and he is feeling a bit tired, but he is also getting ready for the ICC Champions Trophy. I think the biggest asset for Bhuvneshwar is that he wants to book his place in that Indian team and wants to become a legend of Indian cricket. That attitude takes you a long way. I know he will exploit the conditions for India if there is anything for him on the wickets in England. He is going to be a handful in that ICC Champions Trophy. India has got an absolute ‘little diamond’ that they have got to work with,” exclaimed Donald.
Playoffs contenders Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab lock horns in Match 63 of the Pepsi IPL 2013. While RCB found the going difficult on a sluggish surface at Ranchi – losing to KKR by five wickets, KXIP let slip their home match against Sunrisers Hyderabad after they failed to chase down 150 and lost by 30 runs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore certainly start favourites in this match for they will be back in the familiar surrounds of their home ground where they have won all their six matches so far. Since their last outing at home, RCB have won only two of their six matches on the road.
Kings XI Punjab are barely alive in the race for the Pepsi IPL 2013 Playoffs. Even if they win all their remaining matches, they can only get to 16 points. Given there are already five teams with 16 points or more in the standings, KXIP need to get to 16 points and hope for other results to go their way to finish the league among the top four teams.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013, 4 p.m
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
On perhaps the best surface in the competition the focus will surely be on the batsmen in both teams. If it is Bengaluru and Kings XI Punjab, look out for Chris Gayle. Something gets RCB’s Chris Gayle going almost always when the opponents are KXIP or when the venue is Bengaluru. In five innings against KXIP, the Jamaican has scored 50 or more on four occasions (one of which was a century). In 17 innings at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium (in RCB colours), the Jamaican has hit 76 sixes and scored 934 runs at a strike-rate of 176. Also keep an eye out on the RCB skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers who are among the best finishers in the game currently.
With the kind of form he has been in recent times – and given his exploits against RCB when these two teams met the last time around, focus will be on David Miller. Since that match-winning century against RCB, the South African has scored eight and six and he will be itching to get back among the runs. KXIP also need skipper Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh to fire too.
Kings XI Punjab will clearly be feeling confident heading into this match for they have not only won their last two matches against Royal Challengers Bangalore but also hold a 6-5 win-loss record against their opponents.
In the most recent contest between the two teams at Mohali, RCB did well to post 190 for three riding on half-centuries by Cheteshwar Pujara and Chris Gayle before being blown away by David Miller’s 38-ball century.
The average first innings total in matches at Bengaluru this season is 167. In the previous match at Bengaluru, Chris Gayle stormed his way into the record books with an unbeaten 175 and powered his team to 263 – the highest-ever total in T20 cricket.
Chris Gayle needs 32 more runs to score 1000 runs at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. CSK’s Suresh Raina is currently the only player to score more than 1000 runs at one particular venue; he has scored 1158 runs at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.
Royal Challengers Bangalore will wind up their league fixtures with a home tie against Chennai Super Kings on May 18. Kings XI Punjab will meanwhile head to their adopted home – Dharamsala – to host the Delhi Daredevils on May 16.