GL and SRH will play the Qualifier 2 at Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi on Friday for a place in the final
GL and SRH will play the Qualifier 2 at Ferozshah Kotla, New Delhi on Friday for a place in the final © AFP

The Indian Premier League (IPL) edition 9 is nearing its climax as the fight for a final spot intensifies. Gujarat Lions (GL) will battle it out at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Qualifier 2 of the tournament. The Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions lost the first qualifier against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) after AB de Villiers took matters into his own hands. Their top spot after the league matches has eventually helped them stay alive in the competition. They might have lost against SRH twice in the league phase and it might give the latter a psychological boost but GL will start afresh. SRH on the other hand, will be counting on their bowlers who were highly accurate against Kolkata Knight Riders. They might have the momentum going into the decider, but it doesn’t take long before the tides turn, especially in T20’s. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Gujarat Lions vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2016, Qualifier 2 at Delhi

Hopes from Top-order: Both the teams have a reputed top-order which has proved their worth with the runs they have scored. SRH’s opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner have contributed immensely to their side and have taken responsibility to anchor the innings at times. Both the left-handers will want to make the most of their touch. Their concern for the No.3 slot has sort of ended and it looks like they might stick with Moises Henriques for that position. Henriques meanwhile, scored a valuable 31 in the Eliminator as well. On the other hand, GL quite strangely went with Aaron Finch in the as an opener along with Brendon McCullum instead of Dwayne Smith. It turned out to be a disaster but Smith did contribute with an important 73 lower-down the order. Skipper, Suresh Raina hasn’t had the best of IPLs with the bat but has captained his side well. He will need to bat responsibly against a strong SRH bowling attack if GL want to reach the final.

Middle-Order’s day out ? – GL’s middle-order somehow hung on to build the innings after the collapse against RCB but will again have to chip-in if GL want to bat SRH out of the game. Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja and Smith if he comes down the order should look to dominate and not let the SRH bowlers settle. Their lower-middle-order has not had much time in the middle and SRH will like to make inroads in their batting lineup. However, SRH would have been content to see Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda get some runs for their side, but would like wicket-keeper Naman Ojha to get some valuable runs at the closing stages of the game.

World-class death bowling on show: GL’s death bowling has been excellent in the IPL. Praveen Kumar and Dwayne Bravo have won them matches by their sheer brilliance and accuracy. What would have made them happy against RCB would be Dhawal Kulkarni’s performance. The young right-arm pacer ripped through RCB’s batting-order and made them panic. Not to forget, SRH’s bowling has been right on the money as well. Mustafizur Rahman, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran have all stepped up since Ashish Nehra’s departure to an injury. ‘Bhuvi’ is the highest wicket-taker so far in the tournament with 21 wickets in 15 matches and quite deservingly owns the Purple Cap.

Talking about spin, Bipul Sharma might retain his place in the SRH Playing XI in place of Karn Sharma. Yuvraj Singh or Deepak Hooda could come in handy for them as part-timers. For GL, Ravindra Jadeja has bowled to his strengths and has done fairly well. Shadab Jakati though proved to be costly, and might be replaced by either Shivil Kaushik or Pravin Tambe or Sarajit Ladda.

The Kotla pitch with its short boundaries might play the same as in the Eliminator but it might well offer some turn for the slower bowlers.

Prediction: At this point, it will be difficult to pick a favourite in the high-voltage clash. SRH might just have an edge over GL given the form of their bowlers.

Squads:

Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum, Praveen Kumar, Dale Steyn, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dwayne Smith, Dhawal Kulkarni, Aaron Finch, Eklavya Dwivedi, Andrew Tye, Ishan Kishan, Jaydev Shah, Shadab Jakati, Pravin Tambe, Pradeep Sangwan, Amit Mishra, Shivil Kaushik, Aksh Deep Nath, Sarabjeet Ladda, Umang Sharma, Paras Dogra

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Ashish Reddy, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bipul Sharma, Karn Sharma, KL Rahul, Naman Ojha (wk), Parvez Rasool, Ricky Bhui, Shikhar Dhawan, Siddharth Kaul, David Warner (c), Moises Henriques, Eoin Morgan, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Mustafizur Rahman, Aditya Tare (wk), Barinder Sran, Ben Cutting, Vijay Shankar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Tirumalasetti Suman.

Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT

(Aditya Sahay is a journalist with CricketCountry who is completely into sports and loves writing about cricket in general. He can be followed on Twitter at adisahay7)