Rising Pune Supergiant enjoyed a rare six-day break but will have a tough assignment on their return when they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at home at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Saturday (April 22).
Steven Smith, Pune’s captain, used the break to make a quick dash to Dubai to spend time with his family, even as Hyderabad had two successful games in three days within the same period. The two victories meant Hyderabad got themselves to No. 3 on the table with eight points, behind only Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Pune, meanwhile, are at No. 7 with only two victories from five matches. The good thing for Pune, however, is that one of those victories came in their last game – away against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
On a tough pitch, their batsmen managed a total in excess of 160, which their bowlers defended successfully. In what was a much-needed boost for Pune, their bowling attack finally seemed to have fallen in place, with Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat impressing after being brought in to the XI.
Smith, though, might have to rethink his batting order and give a promotion to Manoj Tiwary, the in-form batsman whose cameo turned out to be the difference between Pune and Bangalore in the last game.
Things have been falling in place for Hyderabad, too, especially in the batting line-up. They have added depth to the order with Kane Williamson, who smashed a 51-ball 89 from No. 3 in his first game of the season. They have new stars in the bowling attack as well, with Siddarth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj impressing and Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the dependable leader.
The only worry for Hyderabad could be that both their losses so far have come away from home – against Mumbai and Kolkata.
Will they be able to change their away record on Saturday? And will Pune let them, now that they also seem to have found their mojo somewhat?
Played 1. Hyderabad 1, Pune 1.
This will be the first time the two sides meet at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune