The Gujarat Lions and the Kolkata Knight Riders get their IPL campaigns underway on Friday.The second match of the Indian Premier League season will see the Gujarat Lions welcome the Kolkata Knight Riders to the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.
Can the injury-hit Lions get their season off to the ideal start or will it be the Knight Riders to take the points when the sides meet on Friday?
To Win Match
Lions 72/100 | Tie 35/1 | Knight Riders 23/20
It’ll be interesting to see how well the Lions of Gujarat fare in their second and final season in the IPL. While there’s no doubting their top order ferocity and depth, I just worry about how well their bowling unit will cope with the threat of some of the stronger batting line-ups.
There’s no doubting that Brendon McCullum and Jason Roy will open things up for the Lions with captain Suresh Raina pencilled in at three. Dwayne Bravo is currently injured and won’t feature in the first few games of the season which will see Dwayne Smith or Aaron Finch slotting in at three or four.
Bowling wise, this side is going to struggle – at least in the early parts of the competition. Bravo will be joined on the sidelines by Ravindra Jadeja who has been advised to rest by the BCCI medical team and will miss the first two weeks of the tournament.
That leaves James Faulkner and Dhawal Kulkarni to lead the attack for Brad Hodge’s side. The former will always be a handful with his endless variations, while the latter’s line and length is unwavering if not all that threatening.
How the rest of the attack performs will be interesting to see. Andrew Tye won’t feature as the four foreign players in the line-up will include McCullum, Roy, Finch/Smith and Faulkner. The remainder of the attack will need to be formed by a rather unspectacular array of local bowlers – it’ll be interesting to see who cracks the nod.
Kolkata Knight Riders
On paper this side looks as though it could go all the way in the tenth edition of the IPL – something I spoke about extensively in my season preview. They’ve made some excellent purchases in the auction, solidifying what was already an incredibly well-balanced side.
It’ll be interesting to see just how they line up on Friday. Shakib Al Hasan won’t feature for the side as he’s still with the Bangladeshi national side. This leaves the door open for Chris Lynn who may have been pencilled in, to feature later on in the tournament.
Lynn – who has set the BBL alight over the last two seasons – could take the game away from the Gujarat Lions, who admittedly don’t boast the strongest bowling attack. The Australian will be hoping that Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa get the men in purple off to a decent start with the bat.
One thing is for sure, they’ll back their bowlers to get the job done. Sunil Narine, Trent Boult, Chris Woakes and Piyush Chawla are all excellent bowlers and are proven at this level. They’ll need to be on song this Friday if they’re to keep a properly good Gujarat Lions top order quiet.
Verdict: Knight Riders 23/20
I think that the Knight Riders have the edge here, even if it’s not reflected in the betting. They’ll look to take advantage of some of the lesser-known elements that will likely feature in the Lions’ attack. Back the away side to get their season off to a winning start at 23/20.