Struggling Pune Warriors cross swords with high-flying Rajasthan Royals in the Pepsi IPL clash at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Thursday.

The Warriors have lost two matches on the trot by putting up a dismal batting performance. On the other hand, the Royals go into their second away game after recording a clinically 19-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders at home. The Warriors, which includes proven performers like Yuvraj, Ross Taylor and Marlon Samuels, needs to buck up and start firing. Yuvraj pulled out of Pune’s first home game at the eleventh hour, complaining of a sore back. Not only was Yuvraj missed as a main middle-order batsman, the Warriors were also handicapped without his clever left-arm spin bowling in the middle overs against Punjab. Pune have also been undone by the poor form of Taylor and Samuels and this duo needs to contribute significantly.

It’s a surprise why Steve Smith, who topped the batting average with a 40-plus figure in the previous edition, has not got a game yet. Captain Angelo Mathews has also not really made a big impact in the two games and he needs to deliver with both bat and ball, along with Abhishek Nayar down the order.

Royals keep it going

The Royals, on the other hand, have won two close games against Delhi Daredevils and the Knight Riders and would be keen not to let the winning momentum get arrested.

Skipper Rahul Dravid has shown good touch with a half century against the Daredevils while Ajinkya Rahane has chipped in with useful scores.

Stuart Binny has shown his all round prowess and the Royals would be quite pleased with the stints of pacers Kevon Cooper in both the matches.

With temperamental S. Sreesanth, slinger Shaun Tait and Sidharth Trivedi also in the mix, the Royals have a good pace armoury.PTI