Rising Pune Supergiants have started scripting a remarkable comeback with four wins in their last five matches. From finishing second from the last in 2016 to being in the running for a spot in the playoffs, they are finally putting their pieces together. The professionalism of M S Dhoni and Steve Smith has quelled all rumours of a possible strife after Dhoni was dropped from the captaincy. Coming off a drubbing of RCB by 61 runs, RPS would be looking to accumulate all four points from their remaining two matches at home as they are currently at fourth position in the standings. Here are the Match Preview and Predictions as the Rising Pune Super Giants take on the Gujarat Lions.
Gujarat Lions have had a rather flavourless season so far with just 3 wins from nine matches. In the last match, they came back splendidly riding on James Faulkner and Basil Thampi’s bowling and Ravindra Jadeja’s athleticism to tie the game. But they were hard done by Jasprit Bumrah in the one over eliminator. Stranded at sixth position in the table, the Lions must now start piling up wins otherwise they may be left behind in the race for playoffs.
The pitch was a little sluggish in the last game between home side and RCB and thus, the number of runs scored may reduce from the earlier games. Dew is expected to be an advantage for the side batting second.
RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS – STRENGTHS
Rahul Tripathi has carried the mantle of getting RPS to good starts handsomely. He is the only batsman to make six consecutive scores of 30 or more this season. Steve Smith has been amongst runs and so has M S Dhoni. Manoj Tiwary has contributed in whatever position he has been asked to bat in. Lockie Ferguson, playing only his second match of this season ran through the strong batting line up of RCB in the previous game. He has added a much needed spine to RPS bowling attack. Imran Tahir has been consistent in getting crucial wickets for his team.
RISING PUNE SUPERGIANTS – WEAKNESSES
The batting of RPS haven’t lived upto their billing so far. Ajinkya Rahane has not been at his fluent best. Steve Smith and Dhoni must look to score big as they have thrown away good starts. Dan Christian should look to contribute more, especially with the bat. Chahar has failed to impress with his bowling. The fielding of RPS also leaves a lot to be desired as they have dropped quite a few catches this season.
GUJARAT LIONS – STRENGTHS
James Faulkner and Basil Thampi have been exceptional with the ball as they brought Lions back into the game just when Mumbai was running away with it. Ankit Soni has also justified his selection in the playing XI so far. The decision to send Ishan Kishan as an opener has been proved right as he has scored some quick runs in the powerplay. The fielding of Lions have been top notch as they effected four run outs in the last match against Mumbai (Jadeja is surely a “Kanche” champion).
GUJARAT LIONS – WEAKNESSES
The top order of Lions, which secured them the top position in the standings last year, has disappointed so far. Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch have failed to deliver consistently. The Super Over against Mumbai would haunt them for long as they could manage just 6 runs. Suresh Raina hasn’t converted his starts into big ones. Dinesh Karthik seems to have run out of steam. The injury to Andrew Tye which rules him out for the remainder of the season would be their biggest worry at the moment.
RPS – There is still doubt over Ben Stokes injury. And if he gets fit enough to play, then RPS would find it difficult to leave Ferguson out after his Man of the Match outing against RCB. So Dan Christian may have to sit out if Ben Stokes makes a comeback.
Rahul Tripathi, Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith (capt), MS Dhoni (wk), Manoj Tiwary, Daniel Christian, Washington Sundar, Lockie Ferguson, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Imran Tahir.
GL – With Tye ruled out for the rest of the season after hurting his shoulder against Mumbai, it would be difficult for Lions to find his replacement. Jason Roy could be drafted in to beef up the batting. Instead, Dwayne Smith may also make a comeback. Nathu Singh, who was replaced by Irfan Pathan in the last game, is recovering well from a back niggle.
Ishan Kishan, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (capt), Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dwayne Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Irfan Pathan, Basil Thampi, Ankit Soni
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 3, RPS – 0, GL – 3
Earlier this season at Rajkot, Lions chased down RPS score of 171 and Andrew Tye took a hat trick in his debut IPL game.
With both teams involved in the mid table tussle, this is an important match for them to nose ahead. Here’s what we predict
If RPS bats first
1st Innings Score: 150 – 160
GL wins by 5 wickets
If GL bats first
1st Innings Score: 150 – 160
RPS wins by 5 wickets.