The Rising Pune Supergiants have the bowlers, batsmen and the all-rounders to shine in IPL 2016, but their standings does not reflect the strength of their squad. Their players have failed to gel as a unit, and now will be keen to avoid their second defeat to the Gujarat Lions in IPL 2016 when the two new teams clash at the MC A Stadium in Pune.
In their last head-to-head fixture in Rajkot, the Gujarat Lions batsmen shone brightly, chasing down RPS' score of 163 runs. While RPS lost, the two stars for the losing side in the game were Kevin Pietersen and Faf du Plessis, who hve both been ruled out of the IPL, which is a cause of concern for the home team.
Their batting will look fragile with such quality players ruled out of the competition. There will be huge pressure on Ajinkya Rahane, Steve Smith and MS Dhoni with the bat. After an impressive win in the opening game of IPL 2016, against Mumbai Indians, RPS have struggled to cross the finishing line, though, they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game.
Not only do the RPS batsmen need to fire, they need an all-round performance from the entire team. There have been times when the RPS batsmen have done their jobs, but the bowlers have failed to back the batsmen.
Dhoni has relied on R Ashwin for major breakthroughs, but the Indian spinner has been disappointing. The offspinner has only taken two wickets in IPL 2016, which is not what the captain wants from his frontline spinner. RPS' other spinner, Murugan Ashwin, has been better, scalping seven wickets.
They have tried different bowlers like Ishant Sharma and RP Singh with the new ball, but the seamers have failed. For their game against GL, they will look to Ashok Dinda, who was brilliant against the SRH, taking three wickets.
The RPS bowlers need to come up with some strategies while bowling against the Gujarat Lions batsmen. With Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum in stupendous form, the Gujarat Lions have got flying starts from the duo in their last two matches, and will expect somthing similar in Pune as well.
The Gujarat Lions have a formidable batting lineup, which includes Smith, McCullum, Raina and Dinesh Karthik. These batsmen have scored runs consistently for their team, which has put them in a commanding position in IPL 2016.
Skipper Raina has been blessed with experienced IPL campaigners like Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, McCullum and Smith, who have all succeeded in the competition.
"I have played with most of my players at Chennai Super Kings. We have 5-6 players who have performed well in IPL. Brad Hodge (the coach), Dwayne Bravo... these players are aware of my nature. They have played so much in India. It helps to have a set combination if the players respond to the captain," Cricbuzz quoted Raina as saying.
Raina's team have been successful while batting second, but batting first has been a problem as they do not have major bowlers to restrict their opponents. They have batted first twice, and suffered their only loss against SRH, and won their last game against Delhi Daredevils by just one run.
Their bowlers need to get into the act, and perform better. If their bowlers also show their class, the Gujarat Lions could be a difficult team to beat, irrespective of whether they bat first or second.
Where to watch live
RPS vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match â€“ is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. IST (3:30 p.m. BST, 10:30 a.m. ET). Live TV coverage of the RPS vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match will be on Sony Max, Sony Six/HD, Sony ESPN/HD. Online options are available on Hotstar and Starsports.com.
Viewers in the US can watch Rising Pune Supergiants vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match onESPN, while the game can also be live streamed on Watch ESPN.Sportsnet and viewers in Canada can watch the Rising Pune Supergiants vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match on Watch Sportsnet.
OSN Sports Cricket will show RPS vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match in the Middle East and North Africa, while all the action can also be watched via live streaming online on OSN Cricket Play.
Supersport and Supersport Live Video will broadcast RPS vs Gujarat Lions IPL 2016 match in South Africa.
Viewers from across the world, around 133 countries, can watch the IPL 2016 match live online on Cricketgateway.