At this moment, the top three of the IPL table are almost settled, but the coveted fourth spot is up for grabs and two of the three main contenders for that one are Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiant. Naturally, the fixture between these two teams holds every promise to turn out to be an enthralling fixture tonight.
Gujarat Lions are now at the sixth place in the league table, with only 6 points from nine games. From as many matches, Kings XI Punjab and the Supergiant have gathered 8 and 10 points respectively. Thus, a win for Suresh Raina’s boys will make the battle for the top four immensely interesting. On the other hand, Pune will look forward to demolish their opponents to consolidate their position in the standings.
The two sides were on the different sides of the spectrum in their last matches. Gujarat Lions had to taste the defeat in a thriller against Mumbai Indians. After the score was tied level in the regulation overs, the two sides had to sort things out in super over. And a certain Jasprit Bumrah bowled brilliantly to crush all the hopes for the Lions.
Pune, on the other hand, thrashed a hapless Royal Challengers Bangalore at the same ground they are supposed to play tonight’s match. After scoring 157 in the first innings, the bowlers delivered their best to restrict a struggling Royal Challengers batting to a meagre 96 from 20 overs. The hosts will be hoping for a similar outing against Gujarat too.
The reverse fixture:
When the two sides locked horns at Rajkot, it was a victory for the home side. Chasing 171, Gujarat Lions managed to snatch a 7 wicket victory. Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Raina and Aaron Finch – all contributed with important runs in that fixture and they chased the total successfully with 2 overs to spare.
The home team have had to deal with the unfortunate injury of star allrounder Ben Stokes. After playing Faf Du Plessis for a couple of matches, they tried New Zealand bowler Lockie Ferguson in the last match and that had paid off nicely. The fast bowler returned with a figure of 4-1-7-2 and was the main reason behind Pune’s comfortable victory. The team management, however, may choose to replace Deepak Chahar by Shardul Thakur who was a bit better when he got the chance.
Gujarat Lions, on the other hand, should use an unchanged eleven. James Faulkner, after replacing an off form Smith, has delivered his best and should retain his place in the eleven. Irfan Pathan got a game against Mumbai and albeit he was not up to the mark, he should get another chance as well.
Gujarat Lions: Brendon McCullum, Ishan Kishan, Suresh Raina (C), Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Irfan Pathan, Andrew Tye, Basil Thampi, Ankit Soni.
Rising Pune Supergiant: Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Tripathi, Steven Smith (C), Manoj Tiwary, MS Dhoni (WK), Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Lockie Ferguson, Shardul Thakur, Jaidev Unadkat, Imran Tahir.
It will be a 4pm game and so, the dew factor should not play a huge role. Given the nature of the pitch in the last few games, stroke players should score well here. And thus, the key to success will lie with the best batsmen from the two sides.
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Photo by sankarshan