RCB to strengthen position, PW to arrest slide

Pune: Pune Warriors have just pride to play for while Royal Challengers Bangalore would do a world of good to their play-off chances if they win Indian Premier League clash between the two sides, here tomorrow.

After their crushing nine-wicket win over Mumbai Indians, Bangalore are placed fourth in the table while Warriors are languishing at number eight. It will be a big challenge for Warriors to arrest their slide as they are coming into the clash with six straight defeats. They have failed to fire as a unit as their batting has flopped and bowlers too have not made the desired impact.

Nothing has worked for the hosts. Neither the inclusion of Australian skipper Michael Clarke nor the change in batting order. All their efforts have been fruitless as the league has progressed.

Bangalore too have their own problems, but they have in their ranks a game-changer in Chris Gayle, who has made a significant contribution in keeping his side in play-off contention. His whirlwind batting shifts the momentum in his side`s favour at any given point of time. Then they have AB de Villiers, who on his day is a match-winner and stand-in captain Virat Kohli, who is gradually getting into the groove.

It is not not known if regular skipper Daniel Vettori would return for tomorrow`s clash. And if he does so, the team will have a headache to exclude one foreign recruit.

Tillekaratne Dilshan did well yesterday along with Gayle and Muttiah Muralitharan too has done well after being inducted into the side again. But if either of the two will have to make the way for the captain if he returns. Their bowling looks too good for Warriors with Zaheer Khan and R Vinay Kumar in good form. Vinay Kumar after his lively first spell against Mumbai Indians yesterday, has raised the expectations level.

The pace duo is expected to do well against struggling Warriors batsmen. Of all of them, only two – Jesse Ryder and Manish Pandey – have managed to score a half-century. Injury to in-form Kiwi batsman Ryder has just compounded their problems. They need batting to fire in unison if they are to upstage formidable Bangalore. Skipper Sourav Ganguly too have to lead from the front, although he is not the same batsman as he used to be even a couple of years back.