High on confidence after decimating a high-profile Royal Challengers Bangalore, an upbeat Gujarat Lions will be aiming to lift their game a notch higher when they face title contenders Mumbai Indians in Rajkot on Saturday.
The Lions will be hoping that their skipper Suresh Raina is fully fit. Raina scored an unbeaten 34 off 30 balls but had hurt his shoulder during fielding and was seen in considerable pain while batting.
The India international will not like to miss out a match at this crucial juncture, having already scored 309 runs in the tournament so far.
The two teams have had contrasting fortunes in the competition so far, with MI winning six out of their eight matches while Gujarat have just about managed to get across the line on three occasions.
For Mumbai, both their defeats have been at the hands of Rising Pune Supergiant with the second one coming in their previous encounter.
One of the more balanced outfits with all bases covered, Mumbai's primary aim will be to get two more wins as quickly as possibly which will all but ensure a smooth passage into the play-offs.
The Lions on the other hand need to win five out of their next six games and any slip up from here will considerably lessen their chances of making it to the next stage of the tournament.
Dwayne Bravo's injury affected the balance of the Lions side but finally it seemed that they have got their overseas combination right against RCB.
James Faulkner and Andrew Tye with their variations in bowling along with two T20 dashers like Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch at the top of the order is proving to be helpful for the Lions.
They have a new-found talent in Basil Thampi, who can bowl yorkers at will. Nathu Singh has given a glimpse of his talent. The fireworks from Dinesh Karthik in the middle-order keeps them in good stead.
But in terms of pure talent, Mumbai Indians are way ahead with Jos Buttler at the top followed by explosive players like skipper Rohit Sharma, who is slowly coming into his own and Kieron Pollard – a sureshot match winner on his day.
The Pandya brothers – Krunal and Hardik are also vital component with both the Mitchells – Johnson and McClenaghan intimdating the batsmen with pace and swing. Jasprit Bumrah's presence means that Lasith Malinga's off-form has not been a deterrant.
Last but not the least is Harbhajan Singh, who has now bowled 26 overs in seven matches with an astounding economy rate of 5.88. He may have taken only four wickets but in none of the matches, the batsmen have been able to attack him.
(With inputs from PTI)
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