PUNE: Facing a similar crisis after two successive defeats, both Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore would look to bring their campaign back on track when they face each other in an Indian Premier League match, in Pune on Friday.
After impressive starts, both Pune and RCB have faltered in their last two games and come tomorrow the two sides would be looking to outwit each other in a bid to return to winning ways.
With one win and two defeats, both the teams have identical two points each but the Pune outfit is a place above RCB in the standings at fifth position by virtue of a better net run rate.
Debutants Pune, led by the talismanic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, defeated defending champions Mumbai Indians in their tournament opener before losing to another new outfit Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab.
Star-studded RCB, on the other hand, beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening match before their campaign went haywire following losses to Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians last night.
For Pune captain Dhoni, the biggest task would be getting his team composition right.
Dhoni is a leader who persists with a set of players but he is yet to strike that balance in Pune.
Dhoni has to ponder over both the batting and bowling departments of his team.
Pune’s batting unit consists of some big names in Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and Dhoni, but barring Faf du Plessis no other batsman has managed to set the stage on fire so far in the tournament.
Dhoni tried Sri Lankan Thissara Perera in the last match in place of Mitchell Marsh but with no result.
But more than the batting, it is the indifferent performance of his bowlers which would be worrying Dhoni.
Pace spearhead Ishant Sharma has been lacking consistency while Dhoni’s one-time trusted lieutenant RP Singh made way for Irfan Pathan in the previous game without much result.
On the pace front, Dhoni hardly has any options left in his hands as Indian fast bowler Ishwar Pandey has also not been an IPL regular although he can generate a bit of bounce and swing.
Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has not been at his best in the shortest format in the last few months but his statemate Murugan Ashwin has done decently in his debut season.
The bowler who has been a stand-out for Pune is Ranji veteran Rajat Bhatia, who has kept batsmen in check with his gentle medium pace and occasional cutters.
Just like Pune, RCB’s strength lies in batting unit. With the likes of explosive Chris Gayle, captain Virat Kohli, A B de Villiers, Shane Watson and fearless Mumbai-based youngster Sarfaraz Khan in their ranks, the Bangalore outfit can tear apart any bowling unit on their given day.