When a new IPL team debuts, they are not expected to be an instant success. However, Gujarat Lions are an exception. In their first season, as one of the replacements for the suspended teams – Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals – they surely managed to raise a few eyebrows. The Intex-owned team had perfect balance and eventually, they ended up securing the 3rd place.
However, the fairytale season has concluded and this year, in the aftermath of the injuries sustained by key players, the Lions have not been able to stage performances like they did last year. They are now set to face the Delhi Daredevils in an encounter away from home and if they lose tomorrow, it's definitely curtains for their second and probably their last season in the IPL.
The Lions have lost seven games out of the 10 they have played and the numbers highlight that they need a minimum of 14 points along with a healthy net run-rate to qualify for the play-off stages. Although their recent loss against Mumbai Indians in the super over and the following loss against RPS was frustrating to accept, the Suresh Raina-led side need to re-group in order to scamper their way to the next round.
The pitch at Feroz Shah Kotla is likely to be on the slower side and anything above 160 will be a par score. Their opposition Delhi are also under pressure and therefore the losers of this game move closer to the exit door.
Here is the probable playing XI for Gujarat Lions for today’s encounter.
Ishan Kishan: Before the commencement of IPL 10, there was a lot of buzz about a left-handed teenage sensation, well I am talking about Rishab Pant here. But the left-hander has been just above average this season. Astonishingly, it is Pant’s former under-19 teammate who is doing all the talking with the bat this year. Ever since he was promoted to open the innings, left-handed Kishan has relished the invaluable opportunity. He is yet to register a fifty but has been in explosive touch in the last 3 games.
Brendon McCullum: When dangerous players start playing more sensibly, it probably makes them more dangerous. That is exactly what McCullum has showcased this season. The Kiwi started the season well with a few lovely knocks but has faltered in last 3 innings. The T20 specialist will be more than happy to get back on the other side of his slump.
Suresh Raina: Highest run-getter for the team amongst the Indian contingent, Raina will exactly know what lies ahead of him. A loss will mean the side he has captained will not head into the next round and a win boosts the morale of the team. So far, he has scored 318 runs but consistency has remained to be a worry for the 30-year-old.
Aaron Finch: The Australian opener has settled well into his role to bat down the order and once he starts rolling, there is no stopping him. We witnessed the blitzkrieg against the RCB a little over a week back, but barring that innings, Finch just has 2 scored of above 30 in the whole of IPL 10. If GL are to post a big total, players like Finch will have to step up and fire big.
Dinesh Karthik: The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman has performed decently in this year’s IPL. The 2016/17 domestic season was eventful for the right-hander and he has done well so far to extend his form and bat positively in crunch situations. Karthik will be determined to prove his worth with the possibility of an International comeback looming large.
Dwayne Smith: One of the finest T20 players but he has probably past his prime. In the 8 matches, Smith has been a victim of soft dismissals and has only 94 runs to his name. Lack of quality replacements is likely to force GL to hand one more chance for the underperforming West Indian who also gives them an option of an extra bowler.
Ravindra Jadeja: Apart from a few quickfire knocks, Jadeja hasn’t had much to do with the bat this season since his return. The left-arm all-rounder has been average with his bowling as well and has bagged only 4 wickets but he will be keen to perform efficiently in the do-or-die encounter.
James Faulkner: Missed the first six matches of the season and his comeback to the side has not made much of a difference except that they now boast a reliable overseas player in their ranks who can step up on any day.
Basil Thampi: Strong, quick and talented are the words which sum up the young pacer from Kerala. The 23-year-old has showcased his ability with the ball numerous times and his spell a couple of matches ago against the Mumbai Indians will be fondly remembered. The seamer will look to add on to his impressive start to the IPL career.
Ankit Soni: Another 23-year-old who has risen to prominence is TNPL star Soni. He did not have a great debut against RCB but has conceded a combined 32 runs in the following two games. The spinner-friendly Delhi wicket is likely to assist him.
Pradeep Sangwan: After a really long absence from the cash-rich league, Sangwan returned for their game against RPS and produced a dream spell. In the death overs, however, he was blown away by Stokes and Christian. Sangwan would like to improve that specific part of the game and showcase it as early as possible.