IPL 2017: Bowlers under pressure as Gujarat Lions face Kings XI Punjab at home | ipl 2017 | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2017: Bowlers under pressure as Gujarat Lions face Kings XI Punjab at home

Gujarat Lions and Kings XI Punjab have strong batting line-ups but the same can’t be said about their bowlers as they face-off in their 2017 Indian Premier League match at Rajkot on Sunday.

ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 23, 2017 00:59 IST
Gujarat Lions bowlers have been inconsistent and that will keep them a little wary about the strong Kings XI Punjab batting when they play them at Rajkot in the Indian Premier League 2017 on Sunday.
Gujarat Lions bowlers have been inconsistent and that will keep them a little wary about the strong Kings XI Punjab batting when they play them at Rajkot in the Indian Premier League 2017 on Sunday. (BCCI)

When Gujarat Lions take on Kings XI Punjab in the 26th match of the 2017 Indian Premier league at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Sunday, the pressure will be on their bowlers to deliver the winning performance.

While both teams have some of the most destructive batsmen in their ranks, same can’t be said of the leather flingers, who have lacked consistency.

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No wonder both captains, Suresh Raina of Gujarat Lions and Glenn Maxwell of Kings XI Punjab, have opted to bat second whenever they have won the toss.

Both of Gujarat Lions’ victories have come while chasing, including Friday’s four-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders. They also came mighty close to overhauling Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 213 before falling short by 21 runs. Same has been the case with Kings XI Punjab, who recorded their two wins while batting second.

What’s hurting their chances is the lack of a quality second spinner. While Gujarat Lions’ Ravindra Jadeja came good in the last match against Kolkata Knight Riders, by bowling an economical spell, Raina had to do duties of a second spinner because of the lack of options.

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Similarly, Kings XI Punjab have to depend heavily on another India spinner Axar Patel, who has done well containing batsmen in all the six matches he has played but lacks back-up.

When measured against one another in bowling department, the scales tip in Kings XI Punjab’s favour.

The bowlers were instrumental in their two victories which came against Rising Pune Supergiant and Royal Challengers Bangalore. But both efforts came against teams that had issues with their batting.

While Rising Pune Supergiant struggled with the momentum early on, Royal Challengers Bangalore were without their mainstay – Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle.

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Also, the pitch at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore, where Kings XI Punjab played both the games, was two-paced and wasn’t conducive for batting.

On flat tracks, the Kings XI Punjab bowlers haven’t shown the acumen to vary their pace or line and length which has seen them being clobbered by the opposition willow wielders.

It was evident during their last match against Mumbai Indians where they posted 198 but Rohit Sharma & Co chased it down with almost five overs to spare.

The match was played at the Holkar Stadium, on a better-prepared pitch this time around, and the Kings XI Punjab bowlers failed to defend a mammoth total.

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As far as Gujarat Lions are concerned, they knew from the last season’s experience that there was an issue in the bowling department and they tried to rectify it by buying bowlers during the auction but barring Basil Thampi none of them have managed to break into playing XI.

Lions’ skipper Raina was happy with the way they bowled in the death overs against Knight Riders but sees room for improvement.

“We came back pretty strongly but we can still improve on our bowling. We have been giving away lots of runs in the first six overs. If we are looking to finish on top, we need to minimise our mistakes,” Raina said on Friday.

While fireworks are expected from both sets of batsmen, the match will be won by the bowling unit that stands their ground and delivers the knockout blow.