The Gujarat Lions have a huge chance to regain the top spot in IPL 2016, but they have to beat one of the formidable sides in the competition, Royal Challengers Bangalore. A humdinger of a contest is expected when these two teams battle it out in Rajkot on Sunday.
Both teams come into this crucial fixture with contrasting results. Lions lost their last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, but RCB looked brilliant as they defeated MS Dhoni's Rising Pune Supergiants. With a game of this magnitude, Gujarat Lions and RCB will want to field their best 11 that can help them emerge victorious.
With the pitch in Rajkot expected to assist batsmen, Gujarat Lions may try to strengthen their batting in the lower order, and play James Faulkner as the all-rounder. The Australian is a terrific hitter of a cricket ball and a useful bowler, mixing his deliveries well.
Faulkner can replace Dale Steyn, but one does not see any change in the batting order, which looks solid with players like Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina as key players. If these players get into their act, one will be in for a run feast.
Meanwhile, RCB have the best top order in the competition, but they are set to miss Chris Gayle once again. Gayle, who is on paternity leave, is yet to return from Jamaica.
KL Rahul, Gayle's replacement as opener, has been decent, and he might retain his place. Their batting look good with Kohli and de Villiers in great form. WIth Watson to follow at number four, they have tremendous firepower to outscore any team in IPL 2016.
With their batting intact, it remains to be seen if there are some changes in the bowling department. Yuzvendra Chahal might once again miss out as Iqbal Abdulla bowled brilliantly in the last game, taking three wickets, and his spin partner Tabraiz Shamsi is expected to get more chance to play after his impressive debut in their last match.
In their pace department, Harshal Patel has played all four matches for RCB so far, but has failed to impress. Patel might be replaced by the left-arm pacer, Sreenath Arvind.
Likely XI: Gujarat Lions: Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Akshdeep Nath, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), KL Rahul (wk), AB de Villiers, Shane Watson, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Stuart Binny, Sreenath Arvind, Tabraiz Shamsi, Kane Richardson, Iqbal Abdulla