Match 13 IPL 2017 (2017-04-14) @ Rajkot (SCAS)
The Rising Pune Supergaint and Gujarat Lions are two new franchises that joined the IPL in 2016. The Lions have played RPS twice in the IPL and won both times.
The Lions lost their opening two matches. On both occasions they were asked to bat first and set a total. With their batting heavy team they failed to defend the 185 and 135 they set. The only took one wicket at lost both matches around 15 overs into the chase.
They have had 5 days off which will have given them time to regroup. So far they have played 4 batsman who prefer to open as their overseas players. With no allrounders in the side and no overseas bowlers they have struggled.
The return of Jadeja to the team will strengthen the bowling and the lower middle order batting. He is 1st equal in the Cricsq bowling ratings for Test cricket and has been missed badly. It is very hard for teams when they lose an Indian start player because unlike overseas players they are easily replaced. Dwayne Bravo is still missing but the Lions should consider playing Faulkner or Tye to strengthen their bowling further.
RPS won their first game chasing thanks to a great knock from captain Steve Smith. The next game they batted first against KXIP set an inadequate 163 that was chased down. In their third game with Steve Smith missing they conceded 205 against Delhi that they never looked like getting.
Both teams have a terrible record winning matches setting totals. RPS have never won an IPL game batting first and the Lions have a 12.5% record batting first compared to 80% chasing. The Rajkot pitch also favors the chasing team. For these reasons I will wait for the toss and back the chasing team to win.
The Lions batting options are very strong on paper but is yet to deliver. Jason Roy and Brendon McCullum has managed one 30 each. The Lions need both of them to fire in order to build a strong base.
Aaron Finch has been batting in the middle order. In the two innings he has managed just 3 and 15. The overseas player chosen by the Lions is Dwayne Smith. He scored 37 off 27 in their second match to help the score to 135. The problem is he has bowled just 1 over that went for 23.
Raina and Karthik both got runs against Kolkata. Karthik got runs again against the Sunrisers scoring 30 from 32 balls after Rashid Khan had dismissed McCullum, Raina and Finch for 13 runs between them.
The presence of Jadeja at 7 will strengthen the batting taking the pressure off the top order. Now could be the time to replace Dwayne Smith with James Faulkner to bat at 6. He will add something to the weak Lions bowling attack and can also bat.
Praveen Kumar is the only Lions bowler to take a wicket in the two matches they have played. Against KKR Gambhir and Lynn hammered the bowling. Kumar was the only bowler to concede less than 10 an over.
Dhawal Kulkarni was the Lions top wicket-taker in 2016. They will be hoping the seamer can come back to form and get wickets today. Faulkner could join Kulkarni and Kumar a third seamer. Both Gony and Thampi have been expensive in their matches.
Spinner Kaushik was economical against SRH going at 7.25 an over. He should be retained. The other two spinners tried are Baroka and Jakati. Like Gony and Thampi they have both been expensive. The introduction of Jadeja will strengthen the spin department.
Andrew Tye is still yet to play. Unlike other franchises the Lions have no talented young Indian batsmen in their ranks. So it is difficult to see how Tye can get a game when there is only a maximum of one slot for an overseas bowler.
The return of Steve Smith will be a big boost to the RPS line-up. His perfectly timed 84 not out won RPS the match against Mumbai. In his absence against Dehli the team collapsed to 108 all out.
Rahane has scored one 60 at the top. His opening partner Agarwal is yet to get going with a top score of 20. RPS could use du Plessis or Khawaja at the top to strengthen the batting. Faf du Plessis came in against Delhi to replace Smith and scored 8 off 7 balls. It is likely he will make way for Smith against with RPS likely to play Stokes and 2 bowlers as their overseas options.
Tripathi played instead of Tiwary in RPS's last match. Tiwary must have been injured because he scored 40 off 23 balls the match before. Hopefully he will be back today. Dhoni is yet to fire with scores of 5, 12 and 11.
Allrounders Stokes and Christian has both played useful innings. I think Stokes is too high in the order when he bats at 4. Christian will play unless RPS go with the two overseas spinners Tahir and Zampa. It will depend on the team's view of the pitch.
The RPS batting line up is yet to get a big total. Following the poor performance against Delhi they will be hoping the return of Smith can make the line-up more solid.
Tahir was not originally brought in the IPL auction this year. He is a late replacement for RPS for the injured Mitchell Marsh. He has been RPS's best bowler with 6 wickets with an economy rate of 6.75.
Ben Stokes has been expensive going 9 an over and taking just one wicket. His bowling is yet to make an impact on the competition. He will continue to be picked due what he adds to the team as an allrounder.
If RPS choose to play another overseas bowler they have the option of Zampa or Christian. Zampa has gone for ten an over in his two match but this is largely due to his figures being ruined by a Morris blitz when they played Delhi. In Christian's only match he went for 23 runs off 2 overs.
Of the local bowlers medium pacer Bhatia has been the best. He has taken 3 wickets and gone for 7.9 runs an over. Rahul Chahar is a spin option while Deepak Chahar is preferred if an extra seamer is required.
Dinda is a big concern for RPS. With Stokes not taking wickets and going for runs they need Dinda to perform. So far he has gone for 11.9 an over. Twice he has been hit for massive overs at the end of the innings. They need him to return to his form of last season where he took 11 wickets and went at only 7.6 and over.
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