Warriors battle opening blues,Royals

Ahead of their game against Rajasthan Royals,Pune Warriors find themselves in a familiar position in the IPL table,sitting in the bottom spot.

Written by Chinmay Brahme | Pune | Published: April 11, 2013 1:20 am

Ahead of their game against Rajasthan Royals,Pune Warriors find themselves in a familiar position in the IPL table,sitting in the bottom spot. “Yes the two losses haven’t been the ideal start to the season. We as a team are scrapping right now but we need a strong dominating performance to come into our own in this championship,” said the side’s coach Allan Donald.

Donald’s statement about his side’s need to show an aggressive intent stems directly from the fact that the Warriors over the last two matches have gotten off to weak starts. In the first game against the Sunrisers,Pune were strangled in the chase of 127 runs. Only 27 runs came from the power play overs with no batsmen getting to even 30. Robin Uthappa top-scored with 22. In the second match,the Pune batters capitulated meekly in front of a strong Kings XI Punjab pace attack. The team managed a paltry 99 from their 20 overs. Again,only 24 runs came in the power play and no batsmen got to 30.

Donald’s statement about the Warrior’s need to come out all guns blazing was aimed squarely at his opener’s. Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa. Uthappa’s 22 and 19 runs in the first two matches haven’t really put the opposition on the backfoot but Pandey’s laborious 15 from 29 balls against Hyderabad and a duck against Punjab have given the Pune coach something to worry about.

“ We are not getting off to strong starts in the first six overs and that’s immediately pegging us back. We need to show intent and we need to unlock the secret to getting off to big starts,” he said. “Both Manish and Robin are natural stroke-players and free flowing batsmen. I haven’t seen them in the shell that they are currently in,” he said.

Uthappa who opened the batting in four of the last seven games played by the Warriors,has an average of 16.8 in that position. Also the fact that Uthappa’s batting partners have been constantly shuffled has not helped. Pandey,who was used as a floater by the Warriors last season,has batted at positions ranging from opener to number seven,averaged 20.32 last season. Uthappa,though has staked a strong claim for a place in the middle-order with his performances over the 2012 season. Primarily used as an aggressive middle-order batsman by his earlier franchise,Royal Challengers,the 27-year-old scored 259 runs last season batting at number four and five in eight innings at an average of 32.37.

Finch for Samuels

However,in what might come as a blessing in disguise for the Warriors,Marlon Samuels has been ruled out of Thursday’s game with a groin strain. The West Indian will be replaced by Australian batsman Aaron Finch. Donald,while reluctant to divulge where exactly Finch would bat,said,“Finch is a very feisty and aggressive batsmen. His natural game at the top of the order will definitely help us,”

Rajasthan have no such problems with two wins out of two. Their top order batsmen are in good form as evidenced by the runs Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Dravid have made over the two games. Kushal Perera looks an explosive batsman up the order while there is also Shane Watson.

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