Mumbai: Pune Warriors would need to lift themselves up by the boot-straps when they clash with Chennai Super Kings just a day after being beaten by them, at their home venue, the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
The Warriors, led by India's World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh, began their debut season on a high with back-to-back victories over Kings XI Punjab and Kochi Tuskers Kerala earlier this month, both at the DYP.
But the defeat against Delhi Daredevils at their home venue, despite scoring an imposing total of 187 for 5 started the Warriors' slide and they lost successive ties to Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium, and to CSK at the latter's backyard - Chidambaram Stadium.
On a sluggish pitch last night, Warriors allowed the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-skippered Super Kings to score 140-plus through less-than-perfect work on the field and their batsmen failed to get going in the run-chase.
Two big defeats in the space of five days would be a dampener and the task in front of Warriors is to put the past behind and regroup as a winning combination in home conditions which suit their style of play.
In fact, the DYP stadium track brings out their best as it helps the pacers get movement and the batsmen like Yuvraj, Jesse Ryder and Robin Uthappa to play shots more freely because the ball comes on to the bat nicely.
Uthappa made a duck and was bowled round his legs while trying to sweep R Ashwin, but a return to a venue where he has batted much better would lift his spirits.
The unavailability of the injured Graeme Smith did affect the team's balance as Mohnish Mishra was sent up to open with Jesse Ryder and it's not clear when the South African southpaw would completely recover from the hamstring strain.
"He (Smith) feels much better now," said a team source. The Warriors also need to be at their physical best as they would be playing four matches, counting the first leg tie against the defending champions, in the space of six days which includes travelling to Bangalore and Jaipur too after Wednesday's home game.
The return to DYP could result in a call-up to Wayne Parnell at the cost of Nathan McCullum who played in Chennai. With Jerome Taylor performing very well, the new ball bowling looks meatier, but the same cannot be said about the slow bowling as Murali Kartik has been less than par for the course.
The Super Kings, on the other hand, would be happy to get their title hunt back on track after a string of defeats. But they have won all their three matches at home and are yet to win their first away game.
The form at the top of the order of Michael Hussey must be a very pleasing aspect for the team's think tank and though Murali Vijay has not converted his starts to big scores, he has done his bit.
But the indifferent form of key batsman Suresh Raina who flopped in their last two games, must be a cause for some concern as he is an impact player for the defending champions with his flamboyant batting, outstanding fielding and effective (in this format) bowling.
In fact, it was in fielding that not only Raina, but others like S Badrinath, outscored the Warriors and Dhoni appreciated this factor in his post-match comments. The team's pacers Doug Bollinger, Albie Morkel and Tim Southee (if included) would relish the pitch at the DYP much more than the Chepauk track.
Though Ashwin and Suraj Randiv have performed well at home, it remains to be seen whether they can be effective on the surface here which does not aid spin bowling as much.
The rival teams (from):
Pune Warriors: Yuvraj Singh (capt.), Robin Uthappa (wk), Murali Kartik, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Deeraj Jadhav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Ganesh Gaikwad, Harpreet Singh Bhatia, Harshad Khadiwale, Kamran Khan, Mithun Manhas, Mohnish Mishra, Rahul Sharma, Sachin Rana, Shrikant Wagh, Shrikant Mundhe, Imtiyaz Ahmed, Jesse Ryder, Graeme Smith, Wayne Parnell, Alphonso Thomas. Tim Paine, Callum Ferguson, Mitchell Marsh, Jerome Taylor, James Faulkner.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt.), M Vijay, Suresh Raina, S Badrinath, R Ashwin, S Anirudha, Shadab Jakati, Michael Hussey, Albie Morkel, D Bollinger, G Bailey, T Southee, F du Plessis, Suraj Randiv, Nuwan Kulasekara, Joginder Sharma, Yo Mahesh, A Mukund, W Saha, Scott Styris, Sudeep Tyagi, K Vasudevadas, G Vignesh.