As the Indian Premier League 2017 approaches its business end, the battle for the top four becomes more interesting with every passing day. And in such a do-or-die match, Gujarat Lions will take a trip to Delhi on Thursday night.
At this moment, Mumbai Indians (16 points from 10 games) are the only side with a confirmed entry to the playoffs, while Kolkata Knight Riders and Rising Pune Supergiant (both 14 points from 11 matches) look strong to make their cases as well. Sunrisers Hyderabad are then on the fourth spot, with 13 points from 11 matchs. In the bottom half, Royal Challengers Bangalore have already been out of the competition (8th place, with 5 points from 11 games), while Kings XI Punjab are at the fifth spot, with 8 points from 9 matches. And finally, the two opposing sides of tonight’s clash are sandwiched between Punjab and Bangalore in the league table.
Gujarat Lions will have to be more desperate in this game, for a defeat might just end their hopes altogether. Delhi, on the other hand, have a game in hand and a win against Suresh Raina and co will definitely uplift their morale to push for the coveted fourth spot.
The two sides were on different sides of the spectrum last time they took the field. Delhi Daredevils, chasing a target of 186 against Hyderabad, clinched a win with five balls to spare, thanks to useful contributions from every batsman in the lineup. Gujarat Lions, however, faltered in their job of defending 161 against Rising Pune Supergiant. Albeit they got three quick wickets early in the game, Ben Stokes stood in between Gujarat and their desired result. The Englishman, returning from an injury spell, hit a ton to guide Pune home with a ball to spare.
The match will start at 8pm on Thursday and will be played at Delhi’s home ground. In two of the three games at the Kotla this season, the teams chasing have won. It has behaved like a good batting track and the stroke players of both the teams will be looking forward to score big runs.
The hosts are going to miss their skipper Zaheer Khan who is out with hamstring problems. Opener Sam Billings has also left for international duties, and so, the onus of scoring runs will be on the Indian youngsters only. In the middle order, the side can definitely boast of two amazing allrounders in Chris Morris and Corey Anderson while the bowling department will have the services of Kagiso Rabada and Pat Cummins.
Gujarat Lions are also suffering from injury problems. Their in form bowler Andrew Tye has picked up an unfortunate knock and others of the bowling department have not been at their best whole season. The side will have to depend on their Indian players to deliver. In addition, Jason Roy has also left for international duties. Thus, if they choose to go with four foreigners, along with Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch, Gujarat will have to play James Faulkner and an out of form Dwayne Smith. Chirag Suri happens to be the only other fit option at the moment.
Predicted starting eleven:
Delhi Daredevils: Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant (WK), Karun Nair (C), Shreyas Iyer, Corey Anderson, Chris Morris, Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami.
Gujarat Lions: Brendon McCullum, Ishan Kishan, Suresh Raina (C), Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Pradeep Sangwan, Basil Thampi, Ankit Soni.
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