Pune, May 2 (IANS) Pune Warriors will be banking on Australian captain Michael Clarke to bring back their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on track when they face Mumbai Indians at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium here Thursday.
Clarke, who had shunned IPL contract in the previous editions, finally made his much awaited debut in the richest Twenty20 league against Deccan Chargers, Tuesday night. Though he ended up on the losing side Clarke made a quick 41 off 31 balls to send ominous signals to the opponents.
Pune Warriors, captained by Sourav Ganguly, made an impressive start this season but lost way soon and are now on a three-match losing streak. They hope that the return of Clarke brings back some luck in the second leg of the Maharashtra derby.
Pune had the last laugh in the first leg beating Mumbai Indians by 28 runs at the Wankhede Stadium in their first match of the season. Mumbai are eager to take revenge of the loss at home and they are riding high after a big win over Deccan Chargers in their last match that propelled them to the third position in the points table.
Mumbai Indians in their last five matches notched only two victories, which were not convincing. Against Kings XI Punjab in which chasing a target of 169, Ambati Rayudu's cameo of 34 off 17 balls helped them win with a ball to spare. In their last match against Deccan Chargers, they struggled while chasing a target of 101.
Mumbai Indians' batting depends on Rohit Sharma (230) and Rayudu (207). A scintillating innings from Tendulkar is long overdue. Since his comeback into the team after his finger injury, Tendulkar has scored 94 runs from five innings with an average of 23.00.
Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga has been the performer of the season for Mumbai Indians with 15 wickets from six matches. Medium pacers Munaf Patel and Kieron Pollard with 11 wickets each have been assisting their premium bowler with wickets at key intervals of the game.
But skipper Harbhajan Singh's form with the ball remains a worry. The off-spinner has just three wickets from eight matches, giving away 219 runs at an economy of 7.30.
Pune Warriors have a formidable batting line-up to take on Mumbai Indians. The addition of Clarke has only boosted the confidence of the side.
Pune's bowling is suffering due to the absence of their fast bowler Ashok Dinda, who has been sidelined due to an injury. The last five matches that he missed, Pune Warriors have suffered badly. Left arm pacer Ashish Nehra have proved costly at the death overs.
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