The Rising Pune Supergiant might have been poor, earlier in the season, but they have got into good rhythm in their last few matches. They have won four of their last five, and RPS will be eager to win yet another match, as Steve Smith-led side face Gujarat Lions at PCA Stadium in Pune on Monday.
RPS lie on fourth spot, and a win against GL would help them challenge the the teams in the top three. But Gujarat Lions are also not out of the Playoff race, so one can expect some hard cricket when these two teams meet for the important encounter.
If one looks at their head-to-head encounter, GL have been dominant, winning all three matches including the last match in Rajkot in IPL 2017. RPS will have a thing or two to prove against the Gujarat Lions.
However, they will have to do without the services of Ben Stokes, who might not feature due to a shoulder injury.
The RPS will also need their opener Ajinkya Rahane to deliver with the bat, as he has not been able to convert his starts into meaningful scores. Smith and Rahul Tripathy has been wonderful for RPS at the top, and they once again need to carry that form against Gujarat Lions.
With the likes of MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary, their batting looks solid. Though Stokes might be out, Lockie Ferguson, who won the man of the match in the last game, has delivered when asked to play for RPS. His pace could be a major difference against Gujarat Lions, who have some major attacking players including Brendon McCullum, Suresh Raina and Aaron Finch.
Ferguson feels it is RPS' all-round cricket, which has been wonderful in their last few matches.
"I think in our camp we have got a lot of young exciting players. People like Tripathi and Tiwary are exciting Indian players. And it's fantastic to watch them get a lot of runs and obviously Smith's been batting really well. Getting the runs on the board is the first part, and we've done the first part well. And then the bowlers have stuck to very simple plans and worked hard to nail those and have the right fields," Cricbuzz quoted Ferguson as saying.
For GL, they are set to miss Andre Tye, who has dislocated his shoulder. He has been their best bowler, and the biggest reason why they have won some of their matches. Though their bowling was a major problem, GL are getting it sorted after some changes.
Basil Thampy is their key pacer and with James Faulkner's experience and Nathu Singh delivering, GL bowlers will be confident of shining against RPS. However, it is the batting of GL, which has always been their strongest bet.
They have a powerful batting line-up, and if McCullum fires at the top for GL, it could be almost half the job done. He can destroy teams with his willow, and Raina will want to see such batting from his opener. Aaron Finch is another top player, who needs to perform against RPS.
The Gujarat Lions' batsmen, however, have not been able to deliver the goods on a consistent basis, which is a problem for the visitors. There is a serious need for GL players to come up with an all-round cricket to beat an inspired RPS team on Monday.
Where to watch
The IPL match between Rising Pune Supergiant vs Gujarat Lions is scheduled for 8:00 pm IST, 3:30pm BST and 10:30am ET start.
TV and Live streaming information
India: TV: Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony Max, Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD. Live Streaming: Hotstar.
USA: TV: Willow TV. Live Streaming: Willow TV Online.
UK: TV: Sky Sports 3HD. Live Streaming: Sky Sports Go.
Middle East: TV: OSN Sports Cricket HD. Live Streaming: OSN Play.
South Africa: TV: SuperSport Two. Live Streaming: SuperSport Live Video.
International: Live Streaming: Cricketgateway.