Mumbai: Having ended their 11-match losing streak going back to the 2012 season, the Pune Warriors will now take on state rivals Mumbai Indians in what promises to be an exciting Pepsi IPL clash here on Saturday.
The Warriors` stock, low after successive defeats in their opening two games of this season, has risen following a clinically-executed seven-wicket victory with more than an over to spare against the Rajasthan Royals.
The struggling Pune franchise, which had previously tasted a victory in the cash-rich league on April 21, 2012 at Delhi against the Daredevils, would be eager to continue their new-found touch against formidable rivals MI in the Maharashtra Derby clash.
More importantly, the under-performing batting line-up clicked for the Warriors against the Royals. A little tweak in the team`s composition, forced by the groin injury sustained by Marlon Samuels in the previous match, did the trick.
Opener Robin Uthappa, who made a quick-fire 32, and the sheet-anchoring Aaron Finch, who made a crucial 64 in 53 balls in his first game, laid the platform for impact player Yuvraj Singh to finish off the match in style with a belligerent 28 not out.
Uthappa, who has got the starts in all three games so far without going far, and Finch gave the innings a flying start by rattling up the 50 in the fourth over itself.
Such a start would be the need of the hour against the battle-hardened MI attack boasting of slinger Lasith Malinga, who played his first game against the Daredevils on April 9 after missing the first two games because of a back strain.
The Warriors can take heart from the fact that when the two teams previously met at the Wankhede Stadium in 2012, it was they who had the last laugh by restricting the strong MI line-up to 101.
Ashok Dinda was the star performer with a four-wicket haul.
The bowlers have done well for the Warriors in all three games though Bhuvaneshwar Kumar went for a lot of runs against the Royals.
They would enjoy the bounce that the Wankhede track offers, especially leg-spinner Rahul Sharma, to keep the star-studded MI batting line-up at bay.
MI, on the other hand, are also on a high boosted by their back-to-back victories over two-time champions Chennai Super Kings away and Delhi Daredevils in their backyard three days ago after losing their opening tame to Royal Challengers Bangalore by two runs.
Wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik has been the batting mainstay in these three games logging 183 runs thus far and also played a blinder making 86 off just 48 balls.
Karthik`s excellent knock helped MI recover from a sorry-reading 1 for the loss of two great players -- captain Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar -- who are opening the innings.
MI would be pleased with the commitment shown by Karthik, who top-scored with 32 when the two teams met last year at this venue in a low-scoring game.
Rohit Sharma -- who put behind two poor displays to finish off the game with a typically dashing 74 and also added 132 runs for the third wicket with Karthik -- while Ambati Rayudu (24 in 8 balls) too chipped in to bring all-round cheers to the MI camp.
Kieron Pollard, after a superb innings of 57 against CSK and a match-turning catch to send back Mahendra Singh Dhoni, also played a cameo to ensure MI crossed the 200-mark that virtually ended the Daredevils hopes.
The lack of big scores from skipper Ponting and Tendulkar, who has been run out twice in three games, would be a slight worry for the hosts ahead of their second home game of the season.
Their bowling looks in top form, especially with the return of Malinga to pitch in with what he does well, splendid death bowling.
MI, who capped the virtually unknown Jaspreet Bumrah in the game against RCB before benching him, and then Rishi Dhawan in another game, are expected to go in with virtually the same squad that whipped the Daredevils.
A victory over the Warriors would take MI to the top of the league table currently occupied by the Challengers who clash with CSK some time later in Chennai.
Pune Warriors: Angelo Mathews (Captain), Yuvraj Singh, Abhishek Nayar, Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor, Ajanta Mendis, Manish Pandey, Marlon Samuels, Mitchell Marsh, Mithun Manhas, Parveez Rasool, Rahul Sharma, Ali Murtaza, Anustup Mazumdar, Ashok Dinda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dheeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Harpreet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Kane Richardson, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Luke Wright, Mahesh Rawat, R Gomez, Shrikant Wagh, Steve Smith, T Suman, Tamim Iqbal, Udit Birla, Aaron Finch.
Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting (Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi Dhawan, Glenn Maxwell, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jaspreet Bumrah, Akshar Patel, Jalaj Saxena, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dwayne Smith, Jacob Oram, James Franklin, Javed Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Surya Kumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe.