Some of the finest exponents of T20 batting will showcase their skills when a confident Gujarat Lions take on a battle-scarred Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League encounter, here tomorrow. 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. On paper, there is not much to choose between the two teams even though Punjab, despite being on a losing streak, are placed fifth with four points while Gujarat are seventh with the same number of points. But the Gujarat Lions will take a lot of heart from their win against the formidable Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens with skipper Raina finally showing why he is revered in the shortest format.
The 46-ball-84 against a potent Knight Riders attack will certainly bolster their confidence after a string of defeats. Similarly, KXIP will take solace from the fact that they scored a near 200 total (198) against the Mumbai Indians with Hashim Amla scoring a terrific hundred and skipper Maxwell also hitting some lusty blows. For Gujarat, McCullum with 258 runs and Raina with 243 runs, are among the top five run-getters in the tournament so far. However, the problem area for both the teams has been bowling which has let them down on most of the occasions. The Indian bowlers, in both the teams, have not been able to set the stage on fire with noteworthy performances. Take the case of India discards Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma.
The two medium-pacers have been preferred by Maxwell in all the six matches and their economy rates have been a dismal 9.39 and 9.18 respectively. Even Varun Aaron, in the three matches that he has played, had an economy rate of 8.90. Only Axar Patel has somewhat redeemed himself with an economy rate of 7.31. Gujarat Lions will be hoping to somehow fit in their best pacer Andrew Tye, who has taken seven wickets in three games including a hat-trick at a decent economy rate of 7.08. Ravindra Jadeja — Gujarat’s biggest bowling weapon — is yet to fire and has had a poor economy rate of 10.12 in four matches having taken only one wicket. Praveen Kumar’s lack of pace and swing has meant he has been hit at an economy rate of 10.32 over five games.
The silver lining for Lions has been Kerala pacer Basil Thampi, who has had a comparatively better economy rate of 8.88, but his ability to bowl yorkers at will has been hailed by many as an India prospect. Bowling has been a big problem for the Gujarat team, which has taken only 19 wickets from six games.Taking all this into account, one can expect another run-feast at the SCA stadium in Khanderi.
Teams Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (Capt), 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 Kaushik, Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Shelly Shaurya, Nathusingh, Dwayne Smith, Tejas Baroka and Andrew Tye.
KXIP: Glenn Maxwell (Capt), Darren Sammy, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Eoin Morgan, Martin Guptil, Ishant Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha, 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.