We’re late to the party, but having seen each team in action already in IPL 2016, we’re confident giving our take on the action. There is no doubt that the recent T20 World Cup has boosted the standard of this year’s edition, and with the talent set to be on show when these two new franchises go head-to-head, we’re in for a blockbuster.
IPL T20: Gujarat Lions v Rising Pune Supergiants – Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium (Rajkot)
Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium and Pitch Analysis
Incredibly, Saurashtra Stadium didn’t play host to any matches in this year’s Twenty20 World Cup. There has been just one T20 international played at the ground, with India defeating Australia back in 2013. Pace bowlers were more effective on the day, accounting for nine of the 11 wickets. More recently, India played South Africa in an ODI in October last year. On that day, both teams were looking to bat, with the pitch slowing up dramatically as the match went on.
The Rajkot pitch is renowned for being fairly flat, so expect a match dominated by the bat, especially considering that both sides seem to spend their international spots on the top order. The one caveat to that is the lack of rain in the region could see the pitch dry as the tournament progresses. We’ll need to have a closer look at the deck before the action begins, but for the opener at the ground, the pitch should be in decent shape.
Dwayne Bravo looms as a potential ‘player of the tournament’ candidate, whilst Aaron Finch’s form is a strong positive for captain Suresh Raina. Ladda and Sangwan could be in the firing line after going for over 10 an over in their short spells in the Lions’ opener. Dale Steyn and West Australian Andrew Tye can’t come into the side given the international player restriction though, meaning the Lions have little alternative on the bowling front.
Gujarat Lions Probable XI: Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan (wk), James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Sarabjit Ladda, Pradeep Sangwan
Rising Pune Supergiants
Pune were terrific in their campaign opener, trouncing the Mumbai Indians on the back of a comprehensive bowling display. Mumbai are renowned for making slow starts, and their batting has been inconsistent over the years, so it is important not to read too much into one strong showing. With MS Dhoni, Steve Smith and Mitchell Marsh still in reserve when they chased down 122, don’t expect any changes heading into this one.
Rising Pune Supergiants Probable XI: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steven Smith, MS Dhoni (c, wk), Mitchell Marsh, Rajat Bhatia, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, M Ashwin, RP Singh
Aaron Finch v Ajinkya Rahane
Two very different players, Aaron Finch is more of a flat track bully than Rahane, but lacks the technique to adjust if there is any kind of movement. Both sides pride themselves on their bowling attacks, but Pune also have significantly greater middle-order batting depth. For that reason, Finch has substantial pressure to continue to perform like he did in the tournament opener.
Dwayne Bravo v Mitchell Marsh
Two genuine all-rounders, both will be utilised for close to their full four-over complement with the ball. Bravo was brilliant, taking four wickets in the Lions’ opening match and becoming the first player to reach 300 T20 wickets, whilst Mitchell Marsh’s 2/21 has been largely overlooked. Removing Hardik Pandya and Jos Buttler is no small feat, and whilst Bravo boasts the superior change of pace, Marsh adds a hostility which could become unplayable if the pitch is dry enough to offer any natural variation. We’re expecting this battle to go a long way to determining the outcome in this match.
This ground has played host to just 2 ODIs and 1 T20.
- The most recent match (an ODI between India and South Africa in 2015) saw the pitch dry and slow as the match progressed. Could we finally see a side win the toss and bat first?
The Lions have committed to their four international players, with McCullum, Finch, Bravo and Faulkner clearly the best options in their side.
- Pune have the better contingent of Indian players though, with Ravi Ashwin, MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane and even Ishant Sharma in or on the cusp of the national T20 side.
There is a gulf in experience between these two sides.
The Lions have four bowlers to have taken over 100 T20 wickets, and have 3 batsmen who have scored at least 30 T20 half-centuries. Pune on the other hand have no batsmen in such a class, and have just 2 bowlers to have broken the 100 wicket mark.
Gujarat Lions v Rising Pune Supergiants Preview and Final Prediction
Without a decent sample size to judge from, there is little to go on when it comes to analysing the pitch that will be on offer. The Rising Pune Supergiants boast so much in terms of batting depth, and a top six that is as well-rounded as any in the IPL. The Lions may have a more dynamic top 3, but unless Dwayne Bravo or Ravi Jadeja perform in the middle order, early wickets could derail their innings. On a pitch that could throw up anything, we’ll take the all-round depth of the Supergiants.
Gujarat Lions Top Batsman: Suresh Raina
Rising Pune Supergiants Top Batsman: Faf du Plessis
Gujarat Lions Top Bowler: Dwayne Bravo
Rising Pune Supergiants Top Bowler: Mitchell Marsh
Match Prediction: Rising Pune Supergiants by 10 runs / 5 wickets.