Steadily gaining momentum after struggling initially, Rising Pune Supergiant would look to maintain their rhythm when they clash with Gujarat Lions in Pune on Monday.
After languishing in the bottom-half of the table, Supergiant notched up four wins in their last five matches to grab the fourth place.
Currently on 10 points from nine games with five wins in their kitty, a win on Monday would ensure that the RPS stay in top-four and strengthen their chances of making the play-offs in the 10th edition of the IPL.
In contrast, the Lions are at fifth with eight points from nine games and need to win rest of their matches to keep the chances of booking a play-off berth alive.
The Supergiant would draw confidence from their comprehensive 61-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in Pune on Friday.
Pune bowlers rose to the occasion, defending a sub-par total of 157 with a controlled bowling performance as they rode on brilliant performances by Imran Tahir (3/18) and man of the-match Lockie Ferguson (2/7).
Even Jaydev Unadkat, Daniel Christian and Washington Sundar chipped in with a wicket apiece.
However, the batsmen struggled to up the ante although the pitch was reasonably good and put on a total of just over 155 runs despite losing only three wickets.
Skipper Steve Smith would be keen to address the issue of inconsistent batting when they face the Lions.
But with the likes of Smith, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Manoj Tiwary and local boy Rahul Tripathi being among the runs so far, RPS would hope for them to fire in unison.
On the other hand, the Lions are coming into the match following a heartbreaking loss to Mumbai Indians in a thrilling Super Over finish at Rajkot on Saturday.
It would be tough to forget the disappointment of a narrow defeat and bounce back.
However, the Lions must be happy to have taken the match to the Super Over while defending a modest total of 154.
The Gujarat fielders were outstanding as they affected four run outs, including three in the last seven balls, to bundle out Mumbai Indians for 153 off the final ball.
Even though they failed to chase down 12 runs in the one over eliminator, courtesy Jasprit Bumrah's brilliant bowling, the Gujarat players showed a lot of character.
Besides James Faulkner (2/34) and new-found talent Basil Thampi (3/29), who can bowl yorkers at will, chipping in with important contributions, new recruit Irfan Pathan also kept his nerves while bowling the last over.
Gujarat would want their bowlers to continue in the same vein but would want the batsmen to take more responsibility.
(With inputs from PTI)
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