Gujarat Lions (GL) got the better players when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) were dissolved ahead of the ninth edition of the IPL.
And, as we look ahead to IPL 2017, the cream of the Gujarat Lions’ team who helped them finish the league stage of IPL 2016 in the first place, is still intact. Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, and Dwayne Bravo are a great quintet to have for any Twenty20 (T20) outfit, with each one of them being a serious match-winner.
The senior Bravo, who suffered a hamstring injury while playing for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash 2016-17, is expected to join up with the Gujarat squad only in the first week of April. Hence, he may not play the initial few matches of the tenth edition of the IPL. Yet, I don’t think GL will be affected by the absence of one of the integral members of their squad.
The Keshav Bansal-owned franchise bought 11 players at the IPL auction 2017, with a strong focus on bolstering their homegrown quota. And, here is GL’s complete list of IPL 2017 players:
Gujarat Lions IPL 2017 Squad
|Indian players (capped and uncapped)||Overseas players (capped and uncapped)|
|Suresh Raina* (Uttar Pradesh)||Brendon McCullum (New Zealand)|
|Ravindra Jadeja (Saurashtra)||James Faulkner (Australia)|
|Dinesh Karthik (Tamilnadu)||Dwayne Bravo (West Indies)|
|Praveen Kumar (Uttar Pradesh)||Dwayne Smith (West Indies|
|Dhawal Kulkarni (Mumbai)||Jason Roy (England)|
|Nathu Singh (Rajasthan)||Chirag Suri (United Arab Emirates)|
|Ishan Kishan (Jharkhand)||Aaron Finch (Australia)|
|Shadab Jakati (Goa)||Andrew Tye (Australia)|
|Jaydev Shah (Saurashtra)|
|Shivil Kaushik (hasn’t played domestic cricket)|
|Pradeep Sangwan (Delhi)|
|Manpreet Singh Gony (Punjab)|
|Pratham Singh (Railways)|
|Munaf Patel (Baroda)|
|Basil Thampi (Kerala)|
|Akshdeep Nath (Uttar Pradesh)|
|Shubham Agarwal (Chhattisgarh)|
|Shelley Shaurya (Delhi)|
Gujarat Lions’ Best Playing XI for IPL 2017
The first impression you get of Gujarat is that they have a powerful batting line-up, especially at the top of the order, who will bother a lot of the IPL bowling attacks. Also worth mentioning is they have quite a few athletic fielders who are capable of producing match-changing run-outs and taking match-winning catches. In the bowling department, however, GL do not quite have an identity and will be relying on their Indian contingent comprising the Praveen Kumars and the Dhawal Kulkarnis, to restrict teams to chaseable scores when they bowl first and ensure that they defend the totals they put up batting first.
But considering the squad they have assembled, here is GL’s best playing XI:
Suresh Raina is the captain and like for CSK, he bats at No. 3 for GL. Raina is a great T20 batsman and is the second-highest run-scorer in the IPL, with 4098 runs.
The Lions’s team management has to decide on the opening combination, with the plethora of options at their disposal: Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch, and new recruit Jason Roy. Last year, Finch and Smith were McCullum’s opening partners at different stages of the season and they (Finch and Smith) might rotate this year as well. While Smith, with his medium pacers and fleet-footedness on the field, brings more to the table than Finch, the Australian batsman’s approach makes him the ideal opening partner for McCullum.
Expect wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik to slot at No. 4 in the batting order.
Ravindra Jadeja, as a spinning all-rounder, is a captain’s dream in the shortest format of the sport. And the No. 1-ranked Test bowler should be Gujarat Lions’s No. 5.
At No. 6, like at the top, Gujarat have a few options up their sleeve. Ishan Kishan, James Faulkner and Akshdeep Nath can bat at what is a pivotal batting position in this format. Akshdeep has enjoyed a tremendous domestic season for Uttar Pradesh, for whom he slammed two hundreds in the recently-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy and put in good all-round displays in the inter-state T20 tournament too. Akshdeep will go into IPL 2017 on the back of two wonderful months of cricket and therefore, be high on confidence. He should, in my opinion, be GL’s No. 6.
At No. 7, in Dwayne Bravo’s absence at the start of the IPL season, James Faulkner is an automatic choice.
Dhawal Kulkarni and Praveen Kumar are two of Gujarat Lions’ frontline seamers. Good batting line-ups will target these two bowlers because of their over-reliance on swing and seam for their wickets. Without swing and seam, Kulkarni and Praveen can be largely ineffective and predictable. Praveen is a bit different from Kulkarni, in that he is a good death overs bowler as well, with his ability to vary the pace of his deliveries and thereby be more conducive on pitches that will get slower as the IPL season progresses.
Nathu Singh, who was bought at this year’s IPL auction, is a lot nippier in the air and off the pitch and predominantly bowls back of a length, making him the perfect foil for Praveen and Kulkarni, who tend to bowl full and look for movement.
With Dwayne Bravo missing from the earlier matches in GL’s IPL 2017 campaign, Gujarat have the space to accommodate another pure batsman. Meaning, Finch could find a place in the playing XI early on in the season, either at the top or in the middle order. But once Bravo attains match fitness, he should complete what will be Gujarat Lions’s best playing XI.
So, here’s what Cricfooty believes is the Lions’s best combination: Suresh Raina (C), Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik, Aaron Finch/Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Akshdeep Nath, James Faulkner, Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, and Nathu Singh