Gujarat Lions are in a resurgent mode with a clinical win against RCB. They are currently placed at fifth position in the points table with six points from their eight matches. With their bowling attack rising to the occasion against RCB after some below par performances, Lions would be backing themselves to pull off an upset against Mumbai Indians at their own backyard in Rajkot.
Mumbai Indians have dominated IPL 2017 and have been the best team so far alongwith the ever consistent KKR. They have six wins from eight games and are comfortably poised to make it to playoffs. Despite the narrow loss to Pune in their last match at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai players are beaming with confidence with both batsmen and bowlers in stellar form. But it is important for them to carry the winning momentum into the qualifiers and avoid any complacency from creeping in.
Saurashtra Cricket Stadium, Rajkot boasts of a pitch that is a batting paradise. There are lots of runs in it and both the teams would like to chase here. It is expected to be a hot night out there in Gujarat.
GUJARAT LIONS – STRENGTHS
Gujarat Lions have been a batting heavy side and Aaron Finch has joined the party with a devastating knock against RCB. Brendon McCullum, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina are all amongst runs. Their bowling also stepped upto the task in the previous game against RCB. Andrew Tye has been the fulcrum of their bowling attack. James Faulkner , Ravindra Jadeja and Basil Thampi also came good with the ball against the strong batting line up. Nathu Singh has been economical in the few overs that he has bowled. The momentum seems to be tilting in their favour as they are looking pretty well balanced side now with the inclusion of James Faulkner.
GUJARAT LIONS – WEAKNESSES
Mumbai Indians batsmen are in good form and Lions’ inexperience in bowling attack can return to haunt them. Their fifth bowler dilemma is still to be sorted out but they should avoid tinkering with the playing XI. Their batsmen also need to bat long and avoid throwing up good starts. Ishan Kishan hasn’t done justice to his talent and got out early in the previous game when he was sent to open alongwith McCullum.
MUMBAI INDIANS – STRENGTHS
Rohit Sharma made a half century and nearly pulled off a win against Pune single handedly. Parthiv Patel and Jos Butler have provided them some explosive starts. In every match, one or the other batsmen have put up their hands.
Harbhajan Singh is the only bowler this season to concede less than 6 per over (min 15 overs). Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell Johnson have been exceptional with the ball. Krunal Pandya and Mitchell McClenagahan have taken wickets at regular intervals. Hardik Pandya has lent the necessary balance to the side.
MUMBAI INDIANS – WEAKNESSES
The indifferent form of Kieron Pollard and Nitish Rana would be a concern for them. Mitchell McClenaghan has leaked some runs consistently. Pune halted their winning streak in the previous encounter and the momentum is a much needed aspect in this format of the game. With pitch offering no assistance to bowlers at Rajkot, they would find it difficult to contain the likes of McCullum, Finch and Raina.
GL – The Lions seem to have find the right combination and should avoid making any changes in the side that won against RCB.
Ishan Kishan, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (capt), Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner, Andrew Tye, Basil Thampi, Nathu Singh, Ankit Soni.
MI – If Krunal Pandya is deemed fit to play, Karn Sharma would have to make way for him.
Parthiv Patel (wk), Jos Butler, Nitish Rana, Rohit Sharma (capt), Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mitchell Johnson, Jasprit Bumrah.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 3, GL – 2, MI – 1
Earlier this season at Wankhede, Gujarat Lions posted a fighting 176 owing to McCullum’s 64 and Karthik’s cameo of 48. But Mumbai Indians chased it down successfully as Nitish Rana top scored with 53 runs.
With Gujarat Lions finally coming into the picture and Mumbai Indians looking to strengthen their lead at the top, this match is up there on the must watch list. Here’s what we predict
If GL bats first
1st Innings Score: 180 – 190
MI wins with 5 wickets in hand
If MI bats first
1st Innings Score: 170 – 180
GL wins with 5 wickets in hand.