It is still early stages in the Indian Premier League, and today which promises to deliver another riveting game of cricket, a resurgent Gujarat Lions will take on a battle scarred Kings XI Punjab at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot.
The last games:
The two sides had different fortunes in store for them in their previous matches. Gujarat Lions beat the formidable Kolkata Knight Riders in an away match at the Eden Gardens, with skipper Suresh Raina finally joining in the party. His 46-ball-84 against a potent Knight Riders attack will certainly bolster their confidence after a string of defeats.
On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab lost their last match against the table toppers, Mumbai Indians. Even though Punjab scored close to 200 (198-4) in their first innings, their bowlers were taken to the cleaners as Mumbai reached the target with 27 balls to spare. Positives to be derived from the defeat were Hashim Amla’s century (104 from 60 deliveries) and a quick-fire 18-ball-40 from skipper Glenn Maxwell.
On paper, there is not much to choose between the two teams. Both of them have won a couple of matches out of the 6 they have played. Gujarat Lions are at the bottom of the standings, whereas Punjab, courtesy a better run rate, are placed 6th in the table. However they are currently on a losing streak, having lost the last of their 4 matches.
These two teams are evenly matched, with both having similar strengths and weaknesses. Their strengths lie in their batting department. The likes of Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch will be aiming to match the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Hashim Amla and Marcus Stoinis stroke for stroke on what promises to be another belter of a track.
However, bowling has been a cause of concern for either teams and is the primary reason that both of them are placed at the bottom half of the standings. Of all the bowlers on display, only GL’s Andrew Tye and Basil Thampi have made an impression, but not in the same match. Ravindra Jadeja is not in best form yet, so his potential to take wickets regularly has not been reached yet. The Sharma’s – Ishant, Mohit and Sandeep – have not really worked for KXIP, nor has Varun Aaron. No wonder Maxwell is left shaking his head when targets close to 200 are hauled in so easily.
Taking all this into account, one can expect another run feast at the SCA stadium in Khanderi.
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (captain), Akshadeep Nath, Shubham Agarwal, Basil Thampi, Dwayne Bravo, Chirag Suri, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Manpreet Gony, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra jadeja, Dhaval Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik, Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Shelly Shaurya, Nathusingh, Dwayne Smith, Tejas Baroka and Andrew Tye.
Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (captain), Darren Sammy, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Eoin Morgan, Martin Guptil, Ishant Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (wicketkeeper), Anureet Singh, Manan Vohra, Varun Aron, David Miller, Mohit Sharma, Gurkeerat singh, Sandeep Sharma, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Matt Henry, Nikhil Nayke, Rahul Tewatia, T Natrajan, Swapnil Singh, KC Cariappa, Pradeep Sahu, Rinku Singh and Arman Jaffer.