Motivated by the morale-boosting four-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their last Indian Premier League (IPL) match, Gujarat Lions will be aiming to keep the momentum going when they face Kings XI Punjab at home on Sunday.
The Lions rode on skipper Suresh Raina’s brilliant 46-ball-84 at the Eden Gardens on Friday to their second victory of the season while Kings XI will be eager to end their four-match losing streak at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here.
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.
For Gujarat, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum with 258 runs and Raina with 243 runs, are among the top five run-getters in the tournament so far.
Punjab will take solace from the fact that they scored a near 200 total (198) against the Mumbai Indians with South African Hashim Amla scoring a terrific hundred and skipper Glenn Maxwell also hitting some lusty blows.
However, the problem area for both the teams has been bowling which has let them down on most occasions.
Both the teams are heavily dependent on the Indian bowlers, who have failed to rise to the occasion when their teams needed them the most.
Punjab’s opening bowlers — Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Ishant Sharma — have all been smacked all around the park by the batsmen, specially in the last match against Mumbai Indians.
Mohit and Sandeep have been preferred by Maxwell in all the six matches and their economy rates have been a dismal 9.39 and 9.18 respectively.
Only left-arm spinner Axar Patel has somewhat redeemed himself with an economy rate of 7.31.
Gujarat, on the other hand, will be banking on their Australian pacer Andrew Tye, who has taken seven wickets in three games including a hat-trick at a decent economy rate of 7.08. Kerala youngster Basil Thampi’s ability to ball yorkers at will, has been an advantage for the Gujarat side.
All-rounder Ravindra Jadeja is yet to fire, having taken only one wicket in the four matches so far, while veteran Praveen Kumar’s lack of pace and swing has meant he has been hit at an economy rate of 10.32 over five games.
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (Captain), 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 Karthik (WK), Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Shadab Jakati, Pradeep Sangwan, Shelly Shaurya, Nathusingh, Dwayne Smith, Tejas Baroka, Andrew Tye.
Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (Captain), Darren Sammy, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Eoin Morgan, Martin Guptil, Ishant Sharma, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), 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, Arman Jaffer.