Rising Pune Supergiants vs Gujarat Lions | Friday 29 April | 16:30 | Pune
Thursday will see the second meeting of the new boys in IPL 2016 as the Rising Pune Supergiants welcome the Gujarat Lions to the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Can the indomitable Lions extend their lead at the top of the IPL standings or will the faltering Supergiants get their season back on track with a win on Friday evening? Let’s get straight to it!
To Win Match
Rising Pune Supergiants 9/10 | Draw 35/1 | Gujarat Lions 9/10
Rising Pune Supergiants
For me, the Rising Pune Supergiants have been the biggest disappointment of IPL 2016 thus far. Their vast array of superstars have failed to show the kind of consistency you need to claim a place in the play-offs.
The Pune franchise will take some confidence heading into this fixture following their convincing 34-run win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad via the Duckworth-Lewis method. Ashok Dinda – in many ways the forgotten man of Indian seam bowling – ripped through the Sunrisers’ top order, getting rid of David Warner and Aditya Tare in his first spell while Eoin Morgan, Deepak Hooda and Moses Henriques fell shortly after leaving the Hyderabad franchise floundering on 32-5.
The Supergiants would eventually limp to 188-8 in their 20 overs with Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar making meaningful contributions to the total. Where the Sunrisers’ form players failed to fire, the Supergiants’ out of touch top order came to life with both Faf du Plessis and Steve Smith – who has so far had a very disappointing campaign – putting in classy knocks. The Australian captain played beautifully for his 36-ball 46, targeting the leg side in front of square with some exquisite flicks.
Stephen Fleming will hope that his side can now capitalise on the win and hopefully push for a place in the top four. The former New Zealand batsman will also be buoyed by the news that Usman Khawaja is likely to come into the squad to replace the injured Kevin Pietersen. Khawaja has seen his stock rise dramatically this year following some dominant displays for the Australian national team as well as the Sydney Thunder, who won the KFC Big Bash off the back of the Pakistani-born batsman’s performances.
The Gujarat Lions are quietly going about putting together a season which could well see the newly-formed franchise lift their first IPL title. They, along with Kolkata Knight Riders, have performed consistently well over the first two weeks of the tournament and look for all money as if they’ll book a place in the knockout stages of the competition.
They endured a bit of a scare in their last game, though. After blistering start from Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith saw them rocket to 112 after just 10 overs. Their dismissals in consecutive overs sparked a bit of a collapse from which they never fully recovered, posting a paltry 172-6 in their 20 overs.
Chris Morris and JP Duminy almost got the Delhi Daredevils home with two magnificent innings, however, a fine death bowling display from Dwayne Bravo and Praveen Kumar ensured that the Lions would hang on for a thrilling one-run win.
The biggest issue that the Lions will have moving forward is who to play at the top of the order. One way around the issue to drop James Faulkner – who hasn’t been particularly good throughout this competition in order to make room for Aaron Finch to come back into the side. With Finch and Smith opening, McCullum can come in at three and launch from the word go.
Verdict: Gujarat Lions to win at 9/10
I fully expect the Gujarat Lions to come up trumps in this fixture. All three of their top order internationals are in sparkling form and will no doubt look to capitalise on a Supergiants bowling attack, that for all of its star power, has failed to live up to its billing.