Rajkot: After last-ball victory over Rising Pune Supergiants on Friday, table-toppers Gujarat Lions will look to consolidate their position when they take on laggards Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match here tomorrow.
Punjab are lying at the bottom of the table with only two points from six matches, while Lions have managed to perch themselves at the top of the IPL standings with 12 points in seven matches.
Their confidence has been further bolstered by a three-wicket win over Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants last night. The Lions chased down a steep 195-run target to romp home.
New Zealand swashbuckler Brendon McCullum and West Indian Dwayne Smith have been key to Lions’ success as they have given superb 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 gave an electrifying start to the Lions even last night by putting on 93 runs in less then 10 overs. Their effort in fact set the stage for a successful chase.
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 Suresh 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 the skipper Suresh Raina 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 some more given the team’s strong position.
In bowling, two seamers — Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni — are doing a good job, while Bravo and Jadeja are also useful alongwith James Faulkner.
(With PTI inputs)