The ongoing IPL has been a nightmare for the Gujarat Lions as they are eighth in the points table with just two wins from their first seven matches. The Suresh Raina-led team have been let down by their bowlers throughout the tournament.
In addition to this, they lost the services of all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and have roped in Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan in his place. They were beaten by Kings XI Punjab in the last match and are set to take on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M Chinnaswamy stadium later today. Let us take a look at how they will line-up when they take on RCB in their own backyard.
Brendon McCullum has been enjoying his time in the IPL as the former Kiwi captain is smashing the bowlers all over the park. He has been consistent in this year’s tournament and would like to continue his good form against his favourite opposition at his favourite venue (remember his 158* against RCB in 2008?).
When McCullum gets going, the opponents are in for a leather hunt. Imagine their fate when McCullum’s opening partner is as destructive as him. That’s what Aaron Finch has been for Gujarat Lions at the top of the order. He is making sure that he makes full use of the powerplay overs.
Few things that are certain in life – birth, death, taxes and Suresh Raina playing well in the IPL. The Gujarat Lions captain, who is also called Mr. IPL, has lived up to the expectations and has been piling on the runs in this year's IPL. He is one of the bright stars for the Lions in this edition as he is fourth on the list of leading run-scorers. With the bowlers disappointing, Raina will look to take charge and lead his team from the front as the Lions need to bat their opponents out of the game.
Dinesh Karthik has continued his form from the domestic circuit and has been among the runs for Gujarat Lions. Karthik plays the role of a finisher for the Rajkot-based team and has been successful in doing so. He will look to prove a point one last time before the Indian squad is picked for the Champions Trophy ’if’ the Men in Blue decide to take part in the extravaganza.
Former Indian under-19 captain Ishan Kishan missed the last match and Akshdeep Nath replaced him in the playing XI. Kishan looked promising earlier in the tournament and to be fair, he didn’t get enough chances this season before he was left out of the playing XI. He should be drafted into the Lions’ batting order at the expense of Nath.
James Faulkner is expected to make a comeback to the Lions playing XI in place of Dwayne Smith, who looked completely out of sorts in the last few matches. Bringing in Faulkner will also provide some stability in the bowling unit and the Aussie is capable of scoring some quick runs towards the end.
Irfan Pathan is making a comeback to the tournament as a replacement for Dwayne Bravo after he went unsold in the IPL auction. In all likelihood, Pathan is expected to make it to the playing XI straight away and will have a point to prove in the tournament.
Ravindra Jadeja has been scratchy with the ball ever since returning from a finger injury. Jadeja’s form with the ball is crucial for his team and the team management will hope that he rediscovers his form at the earliest. The all-rounder has a lot of work on his hands as his form with the bat is also a concern for the team.
Andrew Tye has been Gujarat’s best bowler this season and there shouldn’t be a second thought about including him the playing XI.
Just like Andrew Tye, Basil Thampi has been promising this season and has caught everyone’s eye with some accurate death bowling. At the same time, the Kerala pacer has conceded a lot of runs in the initial overs whilst being unlucky not to pick up more wickets. In spite of all this, he is likely to feature in Gujarat’s playing XI against RCB.
Nathu Singh made his much-awaited debut in the IPL in Gujarat’s previous match and struck in his very first over. He bowled two good overs in the powerplay before he went off the field prior to completing his second spell. It appears that the Rajasthan pacer is fit to take the field against RCB and if he fails to regain full fitness, Praveen Kumar will take his place in the team.