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IPL: Struggling Punjab face uphill task against table toppers Gujarat Lions

April 30, 2016 15:57 IST

IMAGE: TheKings XI Punjab players during an IPL match. Photograph: BCCI

Table-toppers Gujarat Lions will look to consolidate their position when they take on laggards Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match in Rajkot, on Sunday.

Punjab are lying at the bottom of the table with only one win from six matches, while the in-form Lions are the top of the IPL standings with six wins from seven matches.

Their confidence has been further bolstered by a three-wicket win over Mahendra Singh Dhoni's Rising Pune Supergiants on Friday when the Suresh Raina-led team chased down a steep 195-run target to continue their winning run.

New Zealand swashbuckler Brendon McCullum and West Indian Dwayne Smith have been key to Lions' success as they have given the team blazing starts at the top of the order.

The two notched up 110 runs in first 10 overs in a match against Delhi Daredevils, a team whose bowling is considered to be among the strongest in the tournament.

They continued their smashing form by putting on 93 runs in less then 10 overs against Pune, which set the stage for a successful chase.

IMAGE: Gujarat Lions openers Dwayne Smith, left, and Brendon McCullum. Photograph: BCCI

McCullum has made 218 runs in seven matches while Smith, who came in after Australian Aaron Finch got injured, has made 148 in three games including last night's 37-ball 61 for which
he was adjudged man of the match.

Skipper Raina and Dinesh Karthik too have done reasonably well with the bat and scored useful runs whenever the team has needed.

However, two all-rounders -- local boy Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo -- have not done much with the bat and Lions would expect them to lend some stability to the lower middle order.

Bravo has scored only 52 runs in seven matches while Jadeja has made 42 in six.

Raina has tried young players like Akshadeep Nath and Ishan Kishan and he can afford to experiment in the coming games given the team's strong position.

In the bowling department, seamers Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni are doing a good job, while Bravo and Jadeja have proved to be useful in the middle overs along with James Faulkner.

In the first game played between the two teams in this year's IPL, at Mohali, Lions had won by 5 wickets.

Punjab have managed only one victory from six games, with their only win coming against Rising Pune Supergiants.

David Miller

IMAGE: Kings XI Punjab captain David Miller reacts. Photograph: BCCI

Their big names such as Glenn Maxwell and skipper David Miller have failed miserably so far.

Miller has managed to score only 76 runs in six matches, while Maxwell has a mere 95 from the same number of games. Openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra, however, have contributed well with the bat making 143 and 161 respectively in six matches but their good work has been undone by the batsmen lower down.

In the middle order, only Shaun Marsh remains consistent making 158 runs in five games.

Punjab though has some quality pace bowlers in Mitchell Johnson and Kyle Abott but the team's bane has been its inability to fire in unison.

Teams:

Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (captain), Sarabjit Ladda, Akshadeep Nath, Amit Mishra, Dwayne Bravo, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik, Shivil Kaushik, Dhaval Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Brandon McCullum, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Dale Styne, Pravin Tambe, Andrew Tye.

Kings XI Punjab: David Miller (captain), Murli Vijay, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchel Johnson, Kyle Abott, Farhaan Behardien, Wriddhiman Saha, Mohit Sharma, Gurukeerat Maan sinh, Manan Vohra, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Axar Patel, Rishi Dhawan, Marcus Stoinis, Swapnil singh, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, K C Carriappa, Nikhil Naik, Arman Jaffar, Pradeep Shahu.

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