Pune: It will be a battle to avoid the wooden spoon when laggards Pune Warriors and Delhi Daredevils take field for one last time in the 2013 season of the Pepsi Indian Premier League, here on Sunday.
Already out of contention for a berth in the knock-out stage, the teams would play only for pride. The two bottom- placed teams have had a disastrous tournament this year and would aim to sign off on a winning note.
On the points table there is not much difference between the two teams as both have won three of their 15 matches and have six points each but Delhi are placed higher by the virtue of their net-run-rate.
Pune Warriors snapped their nine-match losing streak by stunning defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in their previous match and they would take a lot of confidence from that win, going into this clash.
They would look to avoid finishing at the same position they held last year.
The Warriors batting fired in unison against the title holders in the previous game, as Manish Pandey (66), skipper Aaron Finch (48) and Yuvraj Singh (30) guided Pune to a competitive total of 170.
The Pune franchise would hope that the good batting show continues as throughout the series their batsmen have struggled. Barring skipper Aaron Finch, who scored three half-centuries and to some extent Robin Uthappa, other Pune batsmen have failed miserably.
The biggest disappointment has been Yuvraj Singh who has scored only 235 runs in 12 games and one would expect the explosive batsman to strike some of those big hits he is renowned for.
Their latest signing this year, all-rounder Abhishek Nayar has flopped with the bat and has aggregated just 66 runs in nine innings.
Bowling at death has been haunting Pune as they have been leaking runs consistently in the last few overs.
Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Wayne Parnell bowled decent spells against KKR and would be eager to make early inroads. Leg spinner Rahul Sharma has also provided useful contributions in the middle.
Leading wicket-taker for the Pune outfit Ashoke Dinda (14 wickets) has been expensive and has given away 444 runs in 12 matches.
On the other hand, the Daredevils who were the first team to book their place at play-offs last year have been a pale shadow this year and would be eager to end the listless performance.
The top order has failed for inexplicable reasons. Neither Virender Sehwag nor captain Mahela Jayawardene have lived up to their reputations.
Except the one outing against Mumbai Indians where he scored an unbeaten 95, the senior Indian player hasn`t had much to contribute in the other games.
Australian left-hander David Warner is the only spark in the Delhi batting outfit and has played a lone hand in most of the games. Warner has scored 408 runs in 15 matches.
The bowling has been equally lacklustre and the bowling at death has been hurting them which was evident in the previous game against Kings XI Punjab, where they conceded 68 runs in the last five overs.
Last year`s leading wicket-taker Morne Morkel has been struggling to pickup wickets and has scalped just seven in nine games. The likes of Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Umesh Yadav and Shahbaz Nadeem need to rattle the opposition early.
Pune Warriors: Aaron Finch (captain), Angelo Mathews, Abhishek Nayar, Ajanta Mendis, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashoke Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, R Gomez, Robin Uthappa, Shrikant Wagh, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Wayne Parnell and Yuvraj Singh.
Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardane (captain), Virender Sehwag, David Warner, Umesh Yadav, Manpreet Juneja, Ashish Nehra, Naman Ojha, Irfan Pathan, Andre Russell, Kedar Jadhav, Ajit Agarkar, Johan Botha, Unmukt Chand, Morne Morkel, Shahbaz Nadeem, Ben Rohrer, Sidharth Kaul, Jeevan Mendis, Yogesh Nagar, Sujeet Nayak, Pavan Negi, Aristh Singhvi, Roelof van der Merwe, Venugopal Rao and Gulam Bodi.