The two new teams of IPL 2016 – Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions – had fabulous debuts, beating their respective opponents with great comfort to show that they will be a force this season. Now, Gujarat Lions and RPS go head to head, as some of the former Chennai Super Kings teammates get ready to face each other in what promises to be a cannot-miss IPL encounter in Rajkot.
RPS were impressive, and then some, in their opening match, completely overwhelming the defending champions Mumbai Indians at their own backyard. MS Dhoni marshalled his troops to perfection, as he so often does, and with experience being the name of the game in their squad, there really was hardly any problem through the entire match for the Rising Pune Supergiants.
Considering the ease with which they won their first game, there really is no reason for RPS to tinker with the team. Dhoni is not someone who likes to make changes to the playing XI, unless required, especially when the team is coming off a convincing win.
The bowlers did really well against the Mumbai Indians, and with the pitch at Rajkot expected to aid the spinners, Murugan Ashwin should keep his place in the team. R Ashwin should get a lot more overs to bowl in this match against the Gujarat Lions as well, after the offspinner got just one over against MI.
The Gujarat Lions were also quite impressive in their victory over the Kings XI Punjab in Mohali. While the victory wasn't quite as comprehensive as the one RPS managed, the Lions showed their experience to power past KXIP.
At one point, staring at a score of near 200, the experience of Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo, in particular, came to the fore as GL bounced back from an early onslaught to keep the home team to a sub-par total. The chase was pretty comfortable, despite losing Brendon McCullum early, and while the middle order is a little lightweight, they have enough ammunition to give any side in IPL 2016 trouble, particularly if Aaron Finch and Dinesh Karthik continue to fire with the bat.
The only change that the Gujarat Lions might make is bringing in a spinner, on this expected slow pitch, for Pradeep Sangwan, who bowled just two overs for 21, without picking up a wicket, against Kings XI.
Likely playing XI: Gujarat Lions: Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (C), Dinesh Karthik, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Sarabjit Ladda, Pravin Tambe.
Rising Pune Supergiants: Ajinkya Rahane, Faf Du Plessis, Kevin Pietersen, Steve Smith, MS Dhoni (C), Mitchell Marsh, Rajat Bhatia, R Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, M Ashwin, RP Singh.