Rising Pune Supergiant are peaking at the right time with the playoffs not far away and would be eyeing for crucial two points when they take on an inconsistent Gujarat Lions at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Monday.
Pune won their last game by 61 runs against Royal Challengers Bangalore and have had three victories from four games. The Steve Smith-led Pune side now have 10 points from nine matches.
The hosts will expect their in-form opening pair of Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi to give them a solid start. While, for a better finish, Pune will be banking on Smith, MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary. Moreover, there are Daniel Christian, Rajat Bhatia and Ben Stokes down the order who have the potential to chip in handy cameos.
However, Stokes availability remains a concern, who is recovering from a shoulder injury. If not fit to play, Christian will have to take the added pressure of contributing for Pune – both with the bat and ball.
The bowling was a concern area but Pune have managed to improve there with Jaydev Unadkat and Shardul Thakur bowling well in tandem. In the middle overs, the burden is shared by the experienced Imran Tahir, Christian and rookie spinner Washington Sundar. IPL 2017: Full coverage
On the other hand, Gujarat lost their last match to Mumbai Indians, which was decided by super over and are now placed sixth on the points table with three wins from nine matches. The IPL now moving into the business end, Gujarat need to improve in all departments to stand an outside chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
Gujarat is a batting-heavy side with Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina, Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik in the line-up. However, the big blow comes in the form of Andrew Tye, who has been ruled out of the IPL after dislocating his shoulder. In the last match, Gujarat bowlers did well to defend a total of 154 but their chances will get dented with Tye missing out.
Praveen Kumar, after sitting on the sidelines now gets an opportunity to return as Tye’s replacement. The performances of allrounders Ravindra Jadeja, James Faulkner and Irfan Pathan will also be key for Gujarat.