On a downward spiral after suffering their fifth loss of the season, debutants Rising Pune Supergiants will look to plug the holes in their bowling to get their campaign back on track when they face title-holders Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Pune on Sunday.
Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Rising Pune Supergiants have not had the best start in their debut season, losing five of the seven matches they have played so far.
The Pune outfit is presently languishing at the sixth spot in the eight-team standings with just four points, while the Mumbai Indians are third with eight points from as many games.
With the business end of the tournament nearing, time is running out fast for Pune to get a series of wins and return to the top four.
On Sunday, Pune will fancy their chances against Mumbai, having comfortably defeated them by nine wickets in the tournament opener.
But it will be easier said than done as Dhoni faces the uphill task of selecting a balanced bowling combination which can deliver results for him.
The absence of two main players in Faf du Plessis and Kevin Pietersen, who have been ruled out due to injuries, notwithstanding, Pune’s batting unit has lived up to its reputation with Ajinkya Rahane, Steven Smith and Dhoni himself delivering the goods for the side.
Pune’s batting will also be bolstered by the inclusion of Australian Usman Khawaja, who replaces du Plessis.
Rahane has been among the runs, scoring another half-century against Gujarat Lions, but going into Sunday’s game the most heartening fact for Pune will be Steven Smith’s 101 off just 54 balls on Friday in a losing cause.
And that’s the reason why the bowling is Dhoni’s biggest worry.
Despite putting up 195 for three on Friday, Pune bowlers failed to defend the score against Gujarat, losing the match by three wickets in a last-ball finish.
The likes of Albie Morkel, Ashok Dinda, Thissara Perera, and Ravichandran Ashwin all went for runs.
Rajat Bhatia and young spinner Murugan Ashwin showed some restraint but what is hurting Pune the most is the poor form of R Ashwin.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians are on a high with back-to-back victories over Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders in their last two games.