Visakhapatnam: It will be a battle of survival for struggling Rising Pune Supergiants when they lock horns against formidable title-contenders Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League match, here on Monday.
With just three wins out of 10 games, Pune is placed at a lowly sixth spot in the points table, while Hyderabad have been a dominating force in this edition with six wins and three losses to capture the second spot.
For Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men, it has been a demoralising journey so far as apart from three wins against - Mumbai Indians, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils - they have failed to trouble other teams, losing four matches at their home ground in Pune itself.
Dhoni also have been left with a depleted side after a spate of injuries which led to the return of Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith and Mitchell Marsh. Though Pakistani-born Australian batsman Usman Khawaja and former Aussie captain George Bailey joined the side, they have not been able to make much of a difference so far and the Sanjeev Goenka-owned team will need desperately need to do something to keep themselves afloat.
The Supergiants have been affected by the lack of qualify bowlers, who can restrict the opponents. None of their bowlers figure in the top 15 wicket-takers list this season. Among batsmen, it has been left to Ajinkya Rahane to do the job as he has scored 417 runs so far and is placed at the third spot in highest run-getters list.
With the team needing to win every match from here on to stay in the hunt, Dhoni and his boys know very well that any slip up now and they can safely say goodbye to the tournament.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, have been riding on a wave of success with their latest win being against two-time winner and defending champions Mumbai Indians by 85 runs last night at the ACA-VDCA stadium here.
‘MSD not lacking in faith on Ashwin’
Struggling R. Ashwin has not been given his full quota of overs by Rising Pune Supergiants captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in a few IPL matches this season but former India pacer Ajit Agarkar does not view it as a sign of lack of faith in the off-spinner.
Asked whether Dhoni lacked faith in Ashwin, Agarkar said it was mainly to do with the match conditions and situations than anything else. “At times it may seem odd but I dont think it is due to any lack of faith. When Pune came to Mumbai (to take on Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium last month), it was a seamers wicket and Ashwins bowling was not needed,” Agarkar said.