Thursday, April 21, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
It's a clash between the pace-setters and the stragglers. Gujarat Lions have completed three successful chases in three matches. Aaron Finch has scored half-centuries in all three games, and the manner in which he has got them - at a strike rate close to 140 - has taken a lot of pressure off Brendon McCullum. Having hurt his hamstring during the last-ball thriller against Mumbai Indians, though, Finch is uncertain for Thursday's match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
If Finch doesn't play, the onus will be on Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina, who are yet to hit peak form, to drive their batting along with McCullum. Finch or no Finch, Lions have a commanding line-up whose batting depth surfaced in their three-wicket win over Mumbai Indians.
That Dale Steyn is yet to get a look-in shows how well Lions' Indian bowlers, led by Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni, have performed. Not playing Steyn has also allowed them to play two overseas batsmen. Pravin Tambe and Shadab Jakati have played the containing role well, while Dwayne Bravo's mix of slow-dipping yorkers and bouncers have been hard to get away in the end overs.
Sunrisers don't have a wealth of options, and are yearning to have Yuvraj Singh and Kane Williamson match-ready. Until then, they need to find other ways to complement David Warner, who has scored two half-centuries, including an unbeaten 90 that gave Sunrisers their first win
, against Mumbai. Warner has prospered since his return to the top - he batted in the middle order for Australia at the World T20 - and the team management could similarly consider promoting Eoin Morgan to No. 3.
Ashish Nehra's absence with a groin injury
has put the spotlight on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran. The pair finished with combined figures of 4 for 45 in eight overs in Sunrisers' seven-wicket win on Monday. Mustafizur Rahman's cutters have been difficult to negotiate as well.
Gujarat Lions WWW (most recent matches first)
Sunrisers Hyderabad WLL
In the spotlight
Raina has reserved James Faulkner
for the end overs, but the allrounder has not delivered. He has combined figures of 10-0-94-1 in three matches.
In a tournament that has largely been about opening partnerships, Shikhar Dhawan
's form is a worry for Sunrisers. He has managed only 16 runs in three innings, and has struggled against swing bowling. Against Kolkata Knight Riders, he edged an attempted slash against Morne Morkel's away-swinger to the keeper. In the next game, he was bowled, reacting late toTim Southee's inswinging yorker.
Ravindra Jadeja has rejoined the squad after a short break for his wedding, and should slot back into the XI. With Dhawal Kulkarni having performed well, Akshdeep Nath could make way. If Finch is not fit, Dwayne Smith could come in.
Gujarat Lions (probable) 1 Aaron Finch/Dwayne Smith, 2 Brendon McCullum, 3 Suresh Raina (capt), 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Shadab Jakati, 11 Pravin Tambe
Sunrisers are unlikely to make any change to the line-up that beat Mumbai Indians at home on Monday.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (probable) 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Moises Henriques, 4 Naman Ojha (wk), 5 Deepak Hooda, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Ashish Reddy, 8 Bipul Sharma, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Barinder Sran
Pitch and conditions
The pitch prepared for Rajkot's first game of the tournament last week had a smattering of grass. The good-length area from one end was brown, while the ball skidded on at the other end. After the game, Faf du Plessis said he felt batting against the old ball, especially against spin, was tough since the surface wore out significantly.
Traditionally, Rajkot is known to be a flat batting track irrespective of the format. Dew is unlikely to be a factor.
Stats and trivia
- Aaron Finch averages 61.83 while chasing in T20s in 2016. He has won three successive Man-of-the-Match awards and is just one away from the IPL record
- Mustafizur Rahman has been Sunrisers' best bowler with four wickets at an economy rate of 7.25. Three of his wickets have come between overs 16 and 20.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo