Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers – just how do you stop them on the best ground to bat on, is the big question for the Gujarat Lions as they face off against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Qualifier 1 at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Tuesday. Having done brilliantly to qualify for the knockout stages by topping the IPL points table, what GL now need is a perfect game, with bat and ball, against an RCB side in prime form.
The Lions certainly have the personnel to do it, considering they have the likes of Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina in their batting lineup, with a strong Indian base, coupled by the death over skills of Dwayne Bravo, making them quite formidable in the bowling department as well.
However, as the Gujarat Lions found out, having a strong team on paper is one thing, but reacting to the RCB assault, when they are in the mood, is completely something else. When the two teams met in the league stages in Bengaluru, Kohli and De Villiers put on a batting show to remember.
GL will hope an encore is not in the plan of action for Tuesday. However, if coach Brad Hodge and captain Suresh Raina feel the need to strengthen the bowling, they do have the option of bringing in someone like James Faulkner, or even Dale Steyn, who has played all of one match in IPL 2016. However, their overseas players have all performed really well this season, but if the Gujarat Lions feel the need to strengthen – not that it will make any difference if Kohli, Gayle and/or De Villiers are in the mood – their bowling department, then Finch is likely to be the one to have to sit out.
But then, Finch has won the Gujarat Lions quite a few games this season and Raina and Hodge will do well to just play to their strengths, rather than worry about the opposition, even when that opposition consist of three of the best batsmen in the world in this format.
Apart from that possible bowling change to ponder on, however, the Gujarat Lions really do not need to make any other alterations to their playing XI.
RCB will also feel that they have quite a settled lineup now, with Chris Jordan, after an iffy three games to begin with, doing well with the ball, while Gayle, even though still inconsistent, has shown signs of that ridiculous power he possesses. That means another game on the bench for Tabraiz Shamsi and Travis Head.
With the small dimensions of the Chinnaswamy, Kohli might consider bringing in an extra fast bowler, and if he decides pace is the way to go with the playing XI this time around, Varun Aaron will come in for Iqbal Abdulla.
Expected playing XI: Gujarat Lions: Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina (C), Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Eklavya Dwivedi, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shadab Jakati.
RCB: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (C), AB De Villiers, KL Rahul, Shane Watson, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Chris Jordan, Varun Aaron, Sreenath Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal.