The top of the table clash did not exactly sparkle at the Chinnaswamy Stadium when Bangalore waltzed past Rajasthan. Now the leader takes on basement-dwellers Pune Warriors at home. Could it turn out to be another IPL T20 cricket mis-match?
The Bangalore team has been in roaring form reeling off five consecutive wins at home. They lead the nine-team table with 10 points from seven games, having won five and lost two.
The defeats were very narrow, one off a super over and the other thanks to a no-ball by their own bowler.
The highest run-getter, Virat Kohli with 322 runs in seven games, and the highest wicket-taker, Vinay Kumar, 12 from seven games, are in the Bangalore ranks. Perhaps, this is the first time in the tournament this has happened.
When Chris Gayle does well, they win. When he is out early, they still win. With the batting order running quite deep down, Bangalore have rarely, if ever, struggled for runs. Vinay Kumar has had splendid support from Rudra Pratap Singh (9 wickets), Jaydev Unadkat (5 wickets) and West Indian Ravi Rampaul (5 from just 3 games). With spinner Murali Karthik chipping in with economical spells by T20 standards, the legendary Muttiah Muralitharan has had to just sit back and applaud his teammates. As if to underline this splendid showing, the team has fielded well in the last two games. They have the distinction of not giving away a single extra against Rajasthan Royals.
What more can anyone do or expect? Or what more do they have up their sleeve? These are expectations that have brought their fans scrambling for tickets. Will it be any different against Pune?
Packed with Australian talent, Pune have played well but lost. Yet, they have had the scalps of Rajasthan and Chennai in the midst of their five defeats. Aussies Aaron Finch, Steven smith, c, the more famous Shaun Marsh’s brother, have chipped in with useful contributions. Add the likes of Yuvraj Singh, and the Bangalore boys Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey and Pune look quite menacing.
They put up a tall total of 185 against Punjab but ended up on the losing side with a ball to spare.
Coming off such a heart-breaking loss, Pune will find it tough to bounce back, that too pitted as they are against the league leaders.
While their batting does hold a lot of promise, the attack is a cause for concern. For it lacks class and quality. Pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ashok Dinda and spinners Sri Lankan Ajantha Mendis and Rahul Sharma haven’t really been up to the task.