Millennium Post

Pune Supergiants face tough task of taming upbeat Gujarat Lions

Their campaign back on track after a victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, a rejuvenated Rising Pune Supergiants now face an uphill task of taming the rampaging Gujarat Lions in an IPL clash here on Friday.

After a comprehensive win over defending champions Mumbai Indians in the tournament-opener, Pune suffered four losses on the trot before a win over Hyderabad via Duckworth-Lewis method last Tuesday gave them a new lease of life and the Debutantes will look to continue the positive run. However, standing in their way are the Lions, who have been in red-hot form this season. With five wins in six matches, they are the table-toppers, who have crushed all opponents apart from the sunrisers. In fact, Pune too were in their firing line early in the tournament when the Lions had beaten them by seven wickets at Rajkot and the Supergiants will be itching to extract revenge on Friday.

The Lions have depended on their batting trio of Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and skipper Suresh Raina to score runs in this IPL.

Though Finch’s fitness is a concern for Gujarat but Dwayne Smith has proved to be a good replacement so far and blasted a 30-ball 52 last night against Delhi Daredevils in only his second match this IPL. Among the bowlers, the pace duo of Dwayne Bravo and Dhawal Kulkarni have been the top picks for Gujarat with seven and six wickets respectively, while the spin combination of Pravin Tambe and Ravindra Jadeja too have contributed with five and four scalps so far. For Pune, the opening duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Faf du Plessis have been the top run-scorers with 223 and 206 runs respectively so far in the tournament.

However, Steven Smith and Mahendra Singh Dhoni also need to fire if the Supergiants have to post a huge score or chase down a big target as it is likely to be a high-scoring game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium here.

The spin-pace duo of M Ashwin and Thisara Perera have done the bulk of the damage for his team, picking up 7 and 6 wickets so far and the onus will be on them to earn Pune early breakthroughs on Friday. All eyes will also be on pacer Ashok Dinda, who grabbed three wickets in the only match he played in the tournament so far against Hyderabad. Top India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been off-colour so far and he needs to step up if Pune has to go further ahead in the event.
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