Gujarat Lions vs Rising Pune Supergiants | Thursday 14 April | Rajikot | 16:30
Thursday's only Indian Premier League clash will see the two new sides - the Gujarat Lions and the Rising Pune Supergiants - go head to head at Rajikot.
Both sides go off to the ideal starts with the Lions defeating the King XI Punjab while the Supergiants smashed the Mumbai Indians on the opening day of the competition. Who will come out on top in this one? Let's take a look!
To Win MatchGujarat Lions 1/1 | Draw 35/1 | Rising Pune Supergiants 8/10
Gujarat got off to an impressive start in the 2016 edition of the IPL with a win against the Kings XI Punjab. Dwayne Bravo has continued where he left off from IPL 2015, where he where he claimed to top wicket-taker accolade. The West Indian showman bagged four sticks in the Lions' first ever IPL match . Aaron Finch's 74 against Punjab was the second highest IPL score to not include a single six and has seen him become one of the early favourites to be top tournament runscorer.
Gujarat’s batsmen performed admirably against a good Punjab attack that included five international bowlers. The only worry may be the fact that Brendon McCullum was stumped for a duck off a fast bowler, however, you could most likely put that down to a lack of playing time. Aaron Finch will be looking to carry his form into this game and will be looking to get on top of Pune’s fast bowlers. Somebody who I think is massively underrated is Dinesh Karthik, who played a very mature innings to see Gujarat home against Punjab. Suresh Raina also looked solid before holing out to Marcus Stoinis. The lack of sixes did not hinder the Lions at all as their batsmen managed to keep the boundaries flowing with an incredible 22 fours, more than half their total score.
Gujarat’s bowlers were a bit of a mixed bag in their opener and had it not been for Bravo’s exceptional spell and some questionable tactics from Punjab regarding their batting line-up, they could well have been chasing a lot more. Two of their bowlers returned economy rates of over ten runs and James Faulkner was disappointing with the ball, going at more than nine runs an over. They may look to Dale Steyn for the match against Pune and will hope his experience in India as well as the his ability to make things happen on the flattest of decks will pay dividends.
I expect them to stick with the same team that beat Punjab, apart from one change which should see Steyn replacing Faulkner. McCullum and Finch will hope to get off to an explosive start and the bowlers, apart from Bravo, will be hoping to improve.
Rising Pune Supergiants
Pune, like Gujarat, are making their first appearance in an IPL tournament and also got off to a winning start in the opening game by beating the defending champions, the Mumbai Indians. With a top order consisting of Ajinkya Rahane, Faf Du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, MS Dhoni and Steve Smith; expect Pune to go a very long way in this tournament. Rahane seems always to score runs when he opens and Pietersen, who has been in scintillating T20 form in the past year started very well. An interesting stat to point out is that, chasing 122 against Mumbai, Pune scored 80 of their runs in boundaries - pointing to a top order that isn't afraid to take risks; even when chasing down meagre totals.
There really is not much to say about Pune’s batsmen, who are some of the best in the world in the shortest format of the game. The top order also consists of three test captains in Dhoni, Pietersen and Smith; so keeping calm under pressure will not be an issue with them. Du Plessis was impressive against Mumbai, playing second fiddle to Rahane he managed a well-paced 34 which included three sixes. The only concern would be if the top five all got out cheaply, will Bhatia, Marsh and Ravi Ashwin be able to salvage the innings like Harbhajan Singh did for the Mumbai Indians on the opening day of the tournament?
The Supergiants are also well stocked in the bowling department. Ishant Sharma swung the ball well against Mumbai and dismissed both openers in his first two overs. RP Singh was a bit expensive but bowled at the death while Harbajhan was wreaking havoc. Murugan Ashwin is not a household name but his legspinners were extremely effective. He bowled economically and seemed to cause a lot of trouble for Mumbai’s batsmen and may find himself being used quite early on against Finch and McCullum who are both a susceptible against spin.
I can’t see Pune making any changes against Gujarat as their side is extremely well balanced. They have a good mix of batsmen, all-rounders and bowlers with some very experienced players in their ranks to help out the younger players.
Verdict: Pune to Win at 8/10
This is a tough one to call because both sides are well balanced and each have good international players that always make a difference. I think that if McCullum and Finch both bat to the best of their abilities then Pune may struggle but if Pune can remove these two early there is not much more to come in terms of power hitters. I do believe, however, that Pune have by far the more international experience and these players should be able to see them home.
Value Bet: Pune to Hit the most Sixes at 23/20
Pune’s batsmen managed eight sixes in under fifteen overs while chasing down Mumbai’s small target. Their top five consists of batsmen who are well known for their ability to clear the ropes. If Gujarat lose McCullum or Finch early then they do not have much else to come in terms of big hitters. I’m backing Pune to clear the ropes a few times more in this game.
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