Gujarat Lions are set to host Kings XI Punjab at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Sunday evening. With both teams in dire need of points to move up the ladder, the clash is shaping up to be a fascinating one.
While Suresh Raina’s troops may appear to hold the upper hand on what is expected to be another batting-friendly surface at the venue, the visitors also have plenty of explosive players at their disposal. This could be the likely 11 for Kings XI Punjab in the crucial encounter.
Despite scoring a fluent 60-ball 104, Amla somehow found himself on the losing side the other night. The veteran South African batsman will be looking to continue his form against what should not be a particularly dangerous attack. He has also formed a productive opening combination with Manan Vohra.
Complementing Amla’s steadiness with his blazing stroke-play, Vohra has become a vital cog in Kings XI’s batting lineup at the top of the order. Having missed the previous game due to illness, the right-hander could return to action after recovering adequately.
With over 2000 IPL runs to his name, Shaun Marsh is the leading run-scorer in Kings XI’s history. However, he has only got one opportunity in this season thus far. The southpaw should retain his place in the side in the aftermath of a decent performance against Mumbai.
Glenn Maxwell (C)
Maxwell had a massive role in both of Punjab’s victories until now. While his batting has remained sparkling, for the most part, the Australian’s captaincy has not been impressive. If those exasperated press conferences are any indication, his patience seems to be wearing thin.
Wriddhiman Saha (WK)
Despite batting at number three over the course of this IPL edition, Saha could find himself coming lower down the order in the next few games. While he is currently among the best wicket-keepers in the world, his skills with the bat require some improvement in order to suit the shortest format of the game.
The all-rounder has managed just 10 runs and 2 wickets from 4 matches in this competition. A clean striker of the cricket ball as well as a handy seam option, Stoinis needs a significant knock or an inspired spell to turn his fortunes around.
Axar has been used as a floater in the batting lineup. The left-hander’s ideal spot lies in the lower order where his penchant for finding the boundary can swell the total in the end overs. However, his ability with the ball is the prime reason behind his value to the side. Maxwell should not hesitate to use him in the Power Play overs if the seamers go for plenty.
The team management could swap left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh with the 23-year-old Cariappa following the former’s disappointing spell at the Holkar Stadium. The leg-spinner had been dropped for the previous game but is likely to return to the playing eleven to add variety to the attack.
Possessing the ability to churn out slower deliveries off the back of his hand during the death overs, Mohit Sharma has not quite looked at his best in the early stages of this tournament. Nevertheless, the seamer remains a key member of the franchise’s Indian contingent.
With his ability to generate prodigious movement with the new ball, Sandeep has provided Punjab with crucial early breakthroughs during the last couple of IPL editions. He has picked up five scalps from six matches so far and will look to add to his tally of wickets in the match against Gujarat.
Since Ishant Sharma conceded a whopping 58 runs from his full quota of 4 overs in the previous game, Varun Aaron should step into his position. His extra pace makes him a better bet than the experienced seamer. The right-armer has taken five wickets from three matches in this season.