The Gujarat Lions travel to the MCA Stadium in Pune today to face the in-form Rising Pune Supergiants. The Gujarat Lions have won just three of their nine matches, and their last match’s loss to the Mumbai Indians would be especially disheartening. Suresh Raina’s men came back like lions to restrict the rampaging Mumbai side to 153 and tie the match on Saturday, but could not win in the Super Over even though they had the destructive Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch chasing down a mere 12 runs. Nevertheless, the close defeat to one of the best teams in the tournament would show that the Lions are going to fight hard for the fourth spot for the playoffs, and this makes winning against Pune today, their . Pune have four of their last games and are on somewhat of a roll here, with domestic players like Manoj Tiwary and Rahul Tripathi, along with internationals Steve Smith (captain) and MS Dhoni all playing important roles in Pune’s success story. In fact, Tripathi is the only batsman to make six consecutive scores of 30 runs or above in this tournament, and Smith will look to the him and Rahane for another good start.

The Lions have had problems with their bowling, and their problems have been compounded further with their leading wicket-taker Andrew Tye being ruled out of the rest of the season with a dislocated shoulder. How does that forced change impact the make-up of their XI, and what bearing will it have on the result remains to be seen. As far as the batting goes, if you find the names of Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina in any team list, they will be the most important batsman in that line-up. The former is due for a big score after three consecutive single-digit dismissals. Raina is the team’s top run-getter; though the Lions skipper has made 310 runs, he will be disappointed that he has got past the 50-run mark only twice and will be keen to get a big one.

This is an important match for both the teams, and the fight is for the fourth spot in the playoffs. A win here will give both points and momentum to the victor, and it will be interesting to watch how each team overcomes the pressure to perform. RPS will feel the additional pressure of having never won a match against the Gujarat Lions.

When

01 May 2017, 2000 Hrs IST

Where

MCA Stadium, Pune

Head to Head

Overall: Matches played – 3, Rising Pune Supergiant Won – 0, Gujarat Lions Won – 3

Teams :

Rising Pune Supergiant: Steve Smith (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ashok Dinda, Mayank Agarwal, Faf du Plessis, Ankit Sharma, Baba Aparajith, Ankush Bains, Rajat Bhatia, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Dan Christian, Lockie Ferguson, Imran Tahir, Jaskaran Singh, Usman Khawaja, Saurabh Kumar, Ben Stokes, Washington Sundar, Milind Tandon, Manoj Tiwary, Adam Zampa, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishwar Pandey, Rahul Tripathi, Shardul Thakur.

Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (capt), Akshadeep Nath, Basil Thampi, Shubham Agarwal, Dwayne Smith, Chirag Suri, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Manpreet Gonly, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik, Dhaval Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Pradeep Sangwan, Jason Roy, Jaydev Shah, Shelly Shaurya, Nathusingh, Tejas Baroka and Andrew Tye.

Predictions:

  1. RPS’s opening batsmen Rahane and Tripathi are an important part in the scheme of things –  Pune need a good start to set both a big score and chase down a big score, and they will look to their in-form batsmen to set the tone.
  2. Leg break Imran Tahir will look to come good against the Gujarat side. He has a stunning 13 wickets at a strike rate of 16.15 and skipper Smith will look to him for breaking partnerships in the middle overs.
  3. Lions will look to Ravindra Jadeja and Suresh Raina in the batting department, and considering the batting heroics expected of the Supergiants, it will be important that the Lions’ batsmen be among runs.