Gujarat Lions are the table toppers at the moment in IPL 2016 © AFP
Gujarat Lions are the table toppers at the moment in IPL 2016 © AFP

Rajkot: Table-toppers Gujarat Lions will look to consolidate their position when they take on laggards Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match here tomorrow. Punjab are lying at the bottom of the table with only two points from six matches, while Lions have managed to perch themselves at the top of the IPL standings with 12 points in seven matches. Their confidence has been further bolstered by a three-wicket win over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants last night. The Lions chased down a steep 195-run target to romp home. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Gujarat Lions vs Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2016 at Rajkot

New Zealand swashbuckler Brendon McCullum and West Indian Dwayne Smith have been key to Lions’ success as they have given superb starts at the top of the order. The two notched up 110 runs in first 10 overs in a match against Delhi Daredevils, a team whose bowling is considered to be among the strongest in the tournament.

They gave an electrifying start to the Lions even last night by putting on 93 runs in less then 10 overs. Their effort in fact set the stage for a successful chase. McCullum has made 218 runs in seven matches while Smith, who came in after Australian Aaron Finch got injured, has made 148 in three games including last night’s 37-ball 61 for which he was adjudged man of the match.

Skipper Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik too have done reasonably well with the bat and scored useful runs whenever the team has needed. However, two all-rounders — local boy Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo — have not done much with the bat and the skipper Suresh Raina would expect them to lend some stability to the lower middle order.

Bravo has scored only 52 runs in seven matches while Jadeja has made 42 in six. Raina has tried young players like Akshadeep Nath and Ishan Kishan and he can afford to experiment some more given the team’s strong position. In bowling, two seamers — Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni — are doing a good job, while Bravo and Jadeja are also useful alongwith James Faulkner.

Left-arm spinner Shivil Kaushik was given a chance against Rising Pune Supergiants, where he conceded 32 runs, but is expected to be persisted with in tomorrow’s game.

The two teams will lock horns for a second time in the tournament. In the first game played at Mohali, Lions had won by 5 wickets. Punjab have only two points from six games, their only win coming against Rising Pune Supergiants. Their big names such as Glenn Maxwell and skipper David Miller have failed miserably so far.

Miller has managed to score only 76 runs in 6 matches, while Maxwell has a mere 95 from six games to show for. Openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra, however, have contributed well with the bat making 143 and 161 respectively in six matches. They would be expected to give a good start even in tomorrow’s game.

In the middle-order, only Shaun Marsh remains consistent making 158 runs in five games. Punjab though has some quality pace bowlers in Mitchell Johnson and Kyle Abott but the team’s bane has been its inability to fire in unison.


Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (c), Sarabjit Ladda, Akshadeep Nath, Amit Mishra, Dwayne Bravo, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shivil Kaushik, Dhaval Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Dale Styne, Pravin Tambe and Andrew Tye.

Kings XI Punjab: David Miller, Murli Vijay (c), Glenn Maxwell, Mitchel Johnson, Kyle Abott, Farhaan Behardien, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Mohit Sharma, Gurukeerat Maan sinh, Manan Vohra, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, Swapnil singh, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, K C Carriappa, Nikhil Naik, Arman Jaffar, Pradeep Shahu.