It’s a clash of the bottom teams in the Indian Premier League when Gujarat Lions take on Rising Pune Supergiants at Rajkot on Friday, April 14.
With question marks on their performances so far, both sides have a lot to ponder ahead of this crucial encounter.
Gujarat were always going to be under pressure to replicate the group-round success of last season. But the performances so far have been nothing short of disaster.
In the first match against Kolkata Knight Riders, they looked clueless against a marauding Chris Lynn to lose by ten-wickets.
Then came the disaster against Sunrisers Hyderabad where even the batting flopped. The nine-wicket winning margin for the Sunrisers was a stark reminder for the Lions of the improvements they have to quickly make.
Depending entirely on domestic bowlers and selecting four overseas batsmen isn’t helping their cause. Not that they performed with the bat! Having James Faulkner in the dug-out while the bowlers are struggling for control is suicide.
Pune had a great start to their campaign with captain Steve Smith leading from the front in the victory over Mumbai Indians by seven-wickets. With Imran Tahir heading the bowling attack admirably, Pune looked set for bigger things.
But they were brought crashing down with successive defeats at the hands of Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils. The bowling looked listless in both matches with just Tahir proving a class apart.
Smith who missed the last match due to a stomach bug should be fit enough for this game and that should improve their morale. The bowling musical chairs should stop with Ashok Dinda in this match – definitely after continuous high-return matches.
Faulkner should come into the side in place of Dwayne Smith. There are still question marks over Ravindra Jadeja’s return but if he does, it would be massive for the hosts.
Pune will have to think hard about their bowling combination and for once it has to be Dinda giving way. Smith’s return will mean benching Du Plessis while the Chahar brothers may continue to swap places.
The Lions have happy memories from last season having won both matches against Rising Pune. At Rajkot, it was Aaron Finch’s fifty that led them to a comfortable win while at Pune not even a Smith century could prevent a Lions’ win.
Whom do you want to pick among the bottom two? Both the Lions and Supergiants have been listless so far and picking a winner may be tricky. The Lions are the underdogs at odds of $2.00 (bet365
) while the visitors are offered the same odds of $2.00 (bet365
). Back the Supergiants, especially if Smith is back.
With such a destructive top-order at its disposal, the Lions always are a difficult proposition in the power play. Back them to top the scores in first six overs at odds of $1.80 (bet365
Smith’s return should be welcome news to Pune and the captain should be a good pick to be their best batsman while Tahir should continue to enjoy his purple patch and be their top bowler.