Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore are two quality sides in IPL 2016, with some fantastic players in their respective squads. The Lions face RCB at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Friday.
There is hardly anything to choose from between the two teams in IPL 2016, but the Suresh Raina-led Gujarat Lions may have a slight advantage as Rajkot is their home venue. So they understand the conditions well, and will be backed well by the home crowd.
Here is a look at how the game might pan out in Rajkot.
If RCB bat first: The pitch in Rajkot is expected to stay true throughout the game, assisting batsmen. Two matches have been played here so far in IPL 2016, and the team batting second has won on both occasions, so the team that wins the toss should prefer to chase.
Virat Kohli gets into his groove straightaway, hitting those elegant drives through the covers while KL Rahul is also looking in good shape, but the latter loses his wicket in the fourth over with 32 runs on the board. Kohli and AB de Villiers, who have been brilliant in IPL 2016 so far, toy around with the Gujarat Lions bowlers, and reach 100 runs in the 11th over. De Villiers cuts loose and hits some lusty blows before getting out for 56 runs in the 14th over. Shane Watson comes in and continues to bat like De Villiers, taking the team to 178 in 19 overs. However, a brilliant final over from James Fauklner restricts RCB from reaching 190-odd runs: They score only eight runs in the final over to reach a total of 186 runs.
Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch look in killer mood as they dispatch the RCB bowlers for 70 runs in the first six overs. They are well on course for a win, but RCB spinners Iqbal Abdulla and Tabraiz Shamsi curtail the run flow and get RCB back into the game. Abdulla dismisses McCullum, and Faulkner is promoted up the order, and it works brilliantly. He scores 19 runs off Abdulla's next over, which encourages Finch to play his shots as well. The pair look solid, but Shamsi dismisses both in one over, with 72 runs required in six overs. The pressure is on Suresh Raina, who plays some scintillating shots with Ravindra Jadeja to script a win in the 19th over.
If GL bat first: McCullum looks in some mood as he hits four sixes and three fours in the first six overs. Finch, on the other hand, is enjoying McCullum's batting from the other end. McCullum goes after scoring 58 runs. Finch and Suresh Raina maintain the healthy strike rate and look for a mammoth total, in excess of 200 runs, but Raina is held in the mid-wicket region and Finch is bowled by Abdulla. Faulkner and Dinesh Karthi helps the team reach a total of 165 runs from their 20 overs.
RCB suffer a worse start as KL Rahul is gone in the first over, and De Villiers and Kohli fail to pierce the gap despite middling the ball. The RCB batsmen are under pressure, but De Villiers changes his gears and destroys the GL bolwers, and later, Kohli gets into the act. De Villiers is gone, and Watson, who follows next, is also out for just 10 runs. Youngster Sarfaraz Khan eases the pressure on Kohli with a cameo, scoring 30 runs from 18 balls. Kohli, who is one of the best chasers in the game, carries his bat through to win the team's third game in IPL 2016, with a well-made 70-run innings.