Off to a blazing start to the tournament courtesy a scintillating knock by new skipper Steven Smith in the first game, nothing has gone right since then for the Rising Pune Supergiant side. On Sunday, they will face another side with a similar track record so far as they take on RCB at M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Let us have a look at how RPS line-up might look against struggling RCB.
Openers: Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi
A swashbuckling display by Rahul Tripathi against Gujarat Lions may have reserved the openers slot for him alongside Ajinkya Rahane for at least a few games. The 26-year-old showed glimpses of his potential against Lions and it will be interesting to see if he can continue his good show on a batting-friendly track at Chinnaswamy.
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Middle Order: Steve Smith, MS Dhoni (WK), Manoj Tiwary
The Aussie skipper Steve Smith is set to opt for an unchanged middle-order as that is going to be the best suit for his team combination. The skipper has been in good form in the matches he has played so far and Manoj Tiwary has also grabbed the opportunities whenever he has got them.
The notable player out-of-form in this middle order is MS Dhoni, who seems to be going through a lean patch. However, a player like him just needs one good inning to turn things around and today can be that day.
All-rounder: Ben Stokes
The burly English all-rounder has delivered just one good performance so far and would be itching to prove his worth against RCB. He is set to remain the sole all-rounder in the team after the poor performance of Ankit Sharma against Lions.
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Spinners: Imran Tahir, Adam Zampa, Rahul Chahar
The success of spinners in the RCB vs MI game might prompt Smith to go with a three-pronged spin attack. It will be interesting to see if Zampa gets back into the side in place of Lockie Ferguson, who could not do much against GL. With most of the RCB batsmen loving pace, Smith may decide for three spinners.
Also, the importance of picking regular wickets against strong RCB batting line-up may force RPS to go with three leg spinners in Imran Tahir, Adam Zampa and Rahul Chahar.
Fast Bowlers: Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar
Lockie Ferguson's poor performance in last game may force the think-tank to bring in Deepak Chahar. Bringing in Deepak in place of Lockie would mean that RPS can accommodate Zampa in the line-up. On the other hand, Shardul Thakur showed glimpses of his talent in the last match and that may be just enough to retain his place in the line-up. So, it might be an all-Indian pace battery for Pune on Sunday.