Gujarat Lions started the IPL 2016 campaign brilliantly, but their performance has dipped of late. They have lost their last three matches, and need to deliver as they take on the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
A huge game is on the cards as KKR, who have won two back-to-back matches, and Gujarat Lions lie on top of the table, with six wins each, and a victory for either team will only make their case stronger in the playoffs race.
KKR might not want to break their winning combination for the game against Gujarat Lions. They have a solid batting line-up, with Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa at the top, and the openers have looked good in IPL 2016 so far.
Their middle order looks superb, with the right mix of batsmen. Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan are huge hitters while Manish Pandey can play according to the situation as well.
However, one is not sure if KKR's sipnner, Sunil Narine, is fit for the home game. If he is not, they might persist with old-war horse Brad Hogg. The rest of the bowlers, like Piyush Chawla, Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel, are set to play for KKR.
Gujarat Lions will be keen to get back to their winning ways, and need all their players to shine in Kolkata. Despite three losses, the Lions are not expected to make many changes in their line-up, which played exceptional cricket in the first few weeks.
The problem for them has been the failure of the batsmen in the last few games. Openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith have not been able to give them flying starts, hence they might be tempted to replace the West Indian with Aaron Finch at the top. Smith can bat at number three as the Australian is one of the best openers in the T20 format.
Batsmen like Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik also need to be consistent and not give their wickets away. The Gujarat Lions might want to make one change in their bowling line-up at Eden Gardens, where the pitch could assist spinners. They can bring on Shabad Jakati and bench Pradeep Sangwan.
Expected playing XI: Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir(c), Robin Uthappa(wk), Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Brad Hogg, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav
Gujarat Lions: Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina(c), Dinesh Karthik(wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shadab Jakati, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shivil Kaushik