The Pune Warriors’ hopes of winning a maiden Indian Premier League title this April have suffered a major shock after news emerged from Australia that opening batsman Michael Clarke will be out for the entire tournament.
Clarke was one of Pune’s big-name signings after the franchise bought his services for US$400,000 at the player auction but a double injury on international duty means he cannot bat.
The Australia captain suffered a recurrence of his back injury that has plagued him in the past and a hamstring problem that could further hinder his rehabilitation. He is expected to be out for up to 10 weeks, meaning Pune fans in the betting world won’t see him at the crease at the Sahara Stadium this year.
For the Warriors, Clarke’s absence means their top order looks a lot less competitive with Marlon Samuels the only other major name among a sea of average batsmen. New Zealand’s Ross Taylor is a competent hitter but failed to live up to much against England in the Test whites recently, while all-rounder Yuvraj Singh struggles for batting consistency.
To make things worse, Yuvraj has failed in his attempts to earn the Pune captaincy – Angelo Matthews will instead take up the role – meaning a split in the camp is possible should the Warriors get off to a bad start.
IPL fans in the international cricket betting world should stay clear of backing Pune for the title this season, for they simply don’t have enough firepower without Clarke.
Their bowling attack does carry a threat but with no one there to make the runs fans can expect either heavy defeats or low-scoring victories for a side that have failed to make the knockout stages on their two previous appearances.