Warriors pin hopes on fit-again Yuvraj

Pune: Struggling Pune Warriors on Wednesday got a much-needed fillip with the confirmation that they will have the services of impact player Yuvraj Singh when they cross swords with high-flying Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League (IPL) clash here on Thursday.

Yuvraj is fit to play Thursday's game, according to team coach Allan Donald, but Pune will miss West Indian all-rounder Marlon Samuels, who has picked up a groin injury.

The Warriors have lost two matches on the trot thanks to dismal batting efforts.

On the other hand, the Royals go into their second away game after recording a clinically executed and morale-boosting 19-run victory over defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders at home, their second win in as many matches.

Therefore, the Warriors are the underdogs going into the clash and their stuttering batting line-up, which includes proven performers at the international level like Yuvraj, Ross Taylor and Marlon Samuels, need to buck up and start firing.

Yuvraj pulled out of Pune's first home game on April 7 against Kings XI Punjab at the eleventh hour complaining of a sore back, after flopping in their campaign opener in Hyderabad against new outfit Sunrisers.

How and when did he sustain the injury is not known and in his absence, the Warriors were restricted to a paltry 99 for nine, which was easily overhauled by Kings XI.

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. The Warriors would be happy to get such a key player back after suffering successive defeats.

It's a surprise why Steve Smith, who was one of their players to shine and topped the batting average with a 40-plus figure in the previous edition and even captained the side in a few games, has not got a game yet.

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