On what is the first super Sunday of IPL 2017, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) play host to a psychologically dented Gujarat Lions, who lost their opening fixture against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 10 wickets. David Warner and co. kick-started their title defence with a comfortable 35-run win which proved the settled and balanced nature of their team.
SRH batsmen put the runs on the board and the bowlers, after an indisciplined start, put the brakes on the scoring at the right moments to beat a second-string RCB line-up. What should and will also please Sunrisers is that, amid the pressure of being defending champions and Wednesday night’s match being the season opener, they made the kind of start you want as a team in what is a long season and for a league tournament like the IPL.
The Lions, on the other hand, failed to roar in their own den on Friday night, when Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir exploited what’s a well-known weakness in the GL arsenal: their bowling.
Not often at the top-most level of any sport, do you have one team/individual calling all the shots and the other being unable to provide a contest or at least get into the contest. Suresh Raina and co. will hope that their Friday nightmare is just a one-off and they can produce a better all-round showing, which is indispensable, to beat the Sunrisers at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.
The Probable Playing XI: Sunrisers (SRH) vs Gujarat Lions (GL), April 9 (4pm)
An uncertainty still lingers around whether Mustafizur Rahman will join up with the SRH squad, and if he will, when.
According to a report, we have been told that the Bangladesh bowling sensation has returned home after the completion of Bangladesh’s tour of Srilanka on April 6. Mustafizur will rest for a few days and then join SRH, the report has said. Even if he joins up with the squad at some stage, Mustafizur will not play the entire season due to national commitments in mid-May.
But what we can say at this moment is that the 21-year-old left-arm pacer will not feature for the defending champions on Sunday (April 9, 4pm) against the Lions.
SRH are also one of the few IPL teams who aren’t carrying injured or unwell players and the XI they fielded on Wednesday night against RCB was their best, or at least really close to their best. And, having produced a good overall performance, I do not think SRH need or that they will make a change.
The probable playing XI for Sunrisers vs GL: 1. David Warner (C), 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Moises Henriques, 4. Yuvraj Singh, 5. Deepak Hooda, 6. Naman Ojha, 7. Ben Cutting, 8. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9. Rashid Khan, 10. Ashish Nehra, and 11. Bipul Sharma
SRH’s actual playing XI is the same as what Cricfooty had predicted!
The story for GL is, however, a lot different and quite unique.
Their batting line-up is chock-a-block with big-hitters (Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch, and Raina himself) who will invariably worry bowling line-ups, even those which are as potent as the Sunrisers’ is.
But the problem for Gujarat is their bowling. Their playing XI against KKR featured five specialist bowlers, who were extremely docile and bowled the sort of lengths batsmen love in the shortest format of the sport.
For their clash against the defending champions, GL cannot afford to err with their bowling combination and combination within the bowling attack they pick.
For their campaign opener, the Lions fielded three seamers—Praveen Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni and Manpreet Singh Gony—who are of a similar kind. Praveen, Dhawal and Gony are seamers whose natural length is the 4-6 metre mark, from where they would want the ball to swing and get the slip cordon into play.
On Friday night, they didn’t get assistance from the conditions in Rajkot and although, there’s no theory to suggest that the ball won’t swing in the late afternoon, which is when their Sunday’s game is, GL could be in serious trouble again if they go in with the same bowling attack.
With their batting line-up being fairly settled, GL have to make at least a couple of changes to get the balance right. So, if I was part of the team management, I’d bring in James Faulkner for Jason Roy or Dwayne Smith, and replace Gony with a bowler who hits the deck, like Nathu Singh, or a genuinely quick bowler like Basil Thampi.
With those changes, here’s GL’s ideal and probable playing XI for the clash against Sunrisers: 1. Suresh Raina*, 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Dwayne Smith/Jason Roy, 4. Aaron Finch, 5. Dinesh Karthik, 6. Shivil Kaushik, 7. James Faulkner, 8. Praveen Kumar, 9. Dhawal Kulkarni, 10. Basil Thampi/Nathu Singh, and 11. Shadab Jakati
Actual playing XI: 1. Suresh Raina*, 2. Brendon McCullum, 3. Dwayne Smith, 4. Aaron Finch, 5. Dinesh Karthik, 6. Shivil Kaushik, 7. Jason Roy, 8. Praveen Kumar, 9. Dhawal Kulkarni, 10. Basil Thampi, and 11. Tejas Baroka