Gujarat Lions will target their seventh win in eight matches, and with it move ever closer to a playoff spot when they host the beleaguered Kings XI Punjab on Sunday. This match in Rajkot looks heavily skewed in GL's favour, with KXIP in such disarray that they had to change their captain midway through IPL 2016.
While the Gujarat Lions have been outstanding in the IPL this season, showing power, skill, steel and the ability to hold their nerve in the pressure situations, KXIP have been poor, uninspiring and a team looking bereft of ideas and motivation.
David Miller was dropped as captain of the Kings XI Punjab team as a result, with Murali Vijay taking over the unenviable reigns.
"We felt that David Miller's batting was suffering because of the extra responsibility of captaincy," KXIP coach Sanjay Bangar said of the batsman who has scored just 76 runs in six innings in IPL 2016. "The decision was to just free him up from additional responsibility. He is an integral part of the team. We are looking forward to his contributions with the bat.
"IPL is such a format where best of the players sit out. It is not the first instance where midway through the season there has been a change in captaincy. I think eight or nine times in the past, the captains have been changed. Basically, we're looking to turn things around and it is a step in that direction."
Bangar said Vijay had volunteered for the role of the captain and if the right-hander can transform this side and inspire them to performances like they managed a couple of seasons back, it will look as a masterstroke.
"He was very keen to take up the role," Bangar added. "He did it successfully with Tamil Nadu but has not been available for them on a regular basis. He has experience of captaincy. We felt that he settled into the team nicely, which was not the case last year. Having him definitely will help the team quite a bit."
Kings XI Punjab need all the help they can get because on Sunday they run into a team in top form. That form has been largely down to the brilliant top order batting, be that Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch or McCullum and Dwayne Smith. Time and again, the openers have given the Lions a big start, which is the main reason behind their success in the IPL this season.
If that form continues, Kings XI will struggle to fashion a win.
Axar Patel grabbed a hat-trick, albeit with a little bit of time between the second wicket and the third to helo the Kings XI Punjab grab a much-needed victory over the Gujarat Lions. Put into bat first, KXIP were bowled out for 154 in 19.5 overs, with Muali Vijay, the new captain of the franchise, top scoring with 55 (41b, 6x4).
In reply, the Gujarat Lions struggled in the chase, the moment Brendon McCullum was dismissed by Mohit Sharma, in the second over, with Axar Patel finishing with the best figures of the match of 4-0-21-4, which included the hat-trick. the Gujarat Lions eventually fell short by 23 runs, finishing on 131/9 in their 20 overs.
Where to Watch Live on TV and Online
Gujarat Lions vs Kings XI Punjab is scheduled for a 4 p.m. IST (11.30 a.m. BST, 6.30 a.m. ET) start. Below are the TV and Live Streaming options.
USA: TV: ESPN. Live streaming: Watch ESPN.
Canada: TV: Sportsnet. Live Streaming: Watch Sportsnet.
Middle East and North Africa: TV: OSN Sports Cricket. Live Streaming: OSN Cricket Play.
South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa: TV: Supersport. Live Streaming: Supersport Live Video.
International (ROW): Cricketgateway.