Struggling to find form after three losses in four matches, Gujarat Lions would look to make the home advantage count when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL match at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Tuesday.
The Lions had a dream debut last season by finishing third. But they are struggling this year, losing back-to-back games, against Kolkata Knight Riders at home and Sunrisers Hyderabad away, before registering their first win of IPL-10 by beating Rising Pune Supergiant at home.
The Suresh Raina-led side suffered a six-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians on Sunday night and they are now at the seventh spot, just above bottom-placed RCB, in the league table.
Lions' top order batsmen like Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Raina and Dinesh Karthik have been in good touch, but the problem has been that they have not been firing in unison. West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith could not score big against Mumbai, but is very destructive when he opens with McCullum.
Finch did not play against Mumbai, reportedly due to his missing cricket kit, and will shoulder the Lions’ innings in the lower order in the clash against RCB.
Bowling has been a matter of concern for Lions in the first two matches where they picked up just one wicket, but the inclusion of Andrew Tye has added sting to the bowling attack.
Tye made a dream debut against Pune by taking five wickets, including a hat-trick. He also picked up two wickets against Mumbai on Sunday.
Praveen Kumar looked good in the first couple of overs and got early breakthroughs against Pune and Mumbai, but he remained expensive in the death overs. Munaf Patel played his first game on Sunday and took one wicket, while Kerala seamer Basil Thampi was also impressive against Mumbai.
The spin department looked unimpressive even after return of Ravindra Jadeja, who has been handy with both the bat and ball for the national side. The other spinners like Shadab Jakati and Shivil Kaushik proved to be expensive when they were given a chance.
Meanwhile, last year's runners-up RCB have also been struggling, having lost four matches and won only one, against Delhi Daredevils. They are now at the bottom of the eight-team table with two points from five matches.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who missed RCB’s first two matches due to a shoulder injury, showed his class as he scored 62 in his first game of the tournament against KXIP.
RCB seemed to be still looking for the right opening combination and some of its other big players have not been playing to their potential. Swashbuckling West Indian batsman Chris Gayle has scored just 60 runs in the three matches he has played so far and was dropped twice, including in the match against Pune on Sunday.
Kohli, Shane Watson and AB de Villiers, along with Kedar Jadhav, are the other key batsmen for RCB but they are yet to fire consistently and in unison.
In the bowling department, RCB looked much better than the Lions, with seamers like Tymal Mills, Billy Stanlake, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sreenath Arvind and Samuel Badree performing well.
Badree took a hat-trick against Mumbai though his splendid bowling effort went in vain as RCB lost that game.
Suresh Raina (Captain), Akshadeep Nath, Shubham Agarwal, Basil Thampi, Dwayne Bravo, Chirag Suri, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Manpreet Gony, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Kartik, Dhaval Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik, Praveen Kumar, Brendon McCullum, Munaf Patel, Pratham Singh, Jason Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Shelly Shaurya, Nathu Singh, Dwayne Smith, Tejas Baroka and Andrew Tye.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Virat Kohli (Captain), Tymal Mills, Aniket Chaudhary, Praveen Dubey, Billy Stanlake, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Yuzvendra Chahal, Harshal Patel, Mandeep Singh, Adam Milne, Sarfaraz Khan, Sreenath Arvind, Kedar Jadhav, Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Samuel Badree, Iqbal Abdulla, Travis Head, Sachin Baby, Avesh Khan and Tabraiz Shamsi.
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