The Gujarat Lions will play hosts to Rising Pune Supergiant in the 13th match of the season at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot. Both teams were the new entries in the previous season and which saw them have contrasting fortunes. While GL were the table toppers after the league stage, RPS were languishing at the penultimate position on the points table.
GL though haven’t been able to replicate their performances from last year and have lost both their matches so far. The bowling department seems pretty weak as they have managed to pick up just one wicket in these two games.
On the other hand, RPS started off beautifully by winning their first game against Mumbai Indians but lost the radar and suffered two back to back losses.
Both teams currently lie at the bottom of the points table and would be desperate for resurrection. Here are the top player encounters to watch out for in the clash:
#1 Ravindra Jadeja vs Steve Smith
The RPS skipper would be back in the side having missed out in the last game due to a stomach upset while Jadeja is expected to feature in the XI for the first time this year after returning from an injury.
In the recently concluded Test series between India and Australia, there was one scene that repeated itself numerous times. It was Jadeja bowling at the stumps and Smith defending. But that would certainly not be the case when these two face off in the IPL.
The Indian left-arm spinner had dismissed Smith three times in the series and it would be a keen battle to witness these two now in the shortest format of the game.
#2 Suresh Raina vs MS Dhoni
For so long, Dhoni and Raina used to act as a force together and had a habit of finishing the games for India as well as Chennai Super Kings. But after the franchise was banned from the IPL, the duo was separated and they went on to lead the two new teams of Rising Pune Supergiant and Gujarat Lions.
Dhoni is not the captain anymore yet the magnitude of his influence in any team is huge. The old friends will be up against each other once again and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top.
Raina had shown top form in the first match against Kolkata where he scored a fifty. On the contrary, Dhoni is short of runs so far this season and has only 28 runs to his name in three innings.
#3 Brendon McCullum vs Imran Tahir
The former Kiwi skipper McCullum is still active in various domestic T20 leagues despite having retired from international cricket some time ago. And he is still capable of tearing apart any bowling attack with his lusty blows with the bat.
He had gotten off to a decent start against KKR in the first match with a 35 ball 35 but failed in the last game. He will be up against the South African leg-spinner and the number one ranked T20 bowler in the world, Imran Tahir.
The leggie has enjoyed a great run so far having picked up six wickets in three games and is firmly in contention for the purple cap. McCullum has had a history of dismantling spin bowlers and it remains to be seen what Tahir has in store to stop him.
#4 Jason Roy vs Ben Stokes
The two flamboyant Englishmen will be up against each other
The two teammates from the English team will lock horns while playing for different franchises. Both of them had created buzz before the player auction and there were speculations of both being sold for big bucks.
Where Stokes became the costliest buy of the season when RPS grabbed him for a whopping INR 14.5 crore, Roy remained unsold in the first round of the auction. He was later picked up by GL for INR 1 crore.
Stokes hasn’t proved his money’s worth so far having just one half-century with the bat and has given away more than 9 runs an over. Roy too hadn’t done anything extraordinary and has accounted for 45 runs in 2 innings.
If Roy lasts until the time Stokes comes into the attack, it will be a great contest to see the two countrymen go head to head.