The Lions had a dream debut last season by finishing third. But, they are struggling this year, losing back to back games, against Kolkata Knight Riders at home and Sunrisers Hyderabad away, before registering their first win of IPL-10 by beating Rising Pune Supergiant at home.
The Suresh Raina-led side suffered a six-wicket loss to Mumbai Indians last night and they are now at seventh spot, just above bottom-placed RCB, at the league table. The Lions will be looking to get back to winning ways at SCA stadium.
Lions’ top order batsmen like Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Raina and Dinesh Karthik have been in good touch but the problem has been that they have not been firing in unison.
West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith could not do score big against Mumbai, but is very destructive with McCullum as opener. Finch did not play the game against Mumbai duo to his missing cricket kit and would shoulder the Lions innings in lower order.
Bowling has been a matter of concern for Lions in the first two matches where they picked up just one wicket, but the inclusion of Andrew Tye has added sting to the bowling attack. Tye made a dream debut against Pune by taking five wickets, including a hat-trick. He also picked up two wickets against Mumbai yesterday.
Praveen Kumar looked good in the first couple of overs and gave early breakthroughs for Lions against Pune and Mumbai but he remained expensive in death overs. Munaf Patel played his first game yesterday and took one wicket while Kerala seamer Basil Thampi was also impressive against Mumbai.
The spin department still looked unimpressive even after return of Ravindra Jadeja who has been handy with both the bat and ball But, the other spinners like Shadab Jakati and Shivil Kaushik proved to be expensive when they were given a chance.
Meanwhile, last year’s runners-up RCB have also been struggling, having lost four matches and won only one -- against Delhi Daredevils. They are now at the bottom of the eight-team table with two points from five matches.
Skipper Virat Kohli, who missed RCB’s first two matches due to shoulder injury, showed his class as he scored 62 in his first game of the tournament against KXIP.
RCB seemed to be still looking for the right combination and some other big players have not been playing to their potential. Swashbuckling West Indian batsman Chris Gayle have scored just 60 runs from the three matches he has played so far and was dropped twice, including in the match against Mumbai yesterday.
Kohli, Shane Watson and AB De Villers, alongwith Kedar Jadhav, are the other key batsmen of RCB but they are yet to fire consistently and in unison.
In the bowling department, RCB looked much better than the Lions, with seamers like Tymal Mills, Billy Stanlake, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sreenath Arvind and Samuel Badree.
Badree took a hat-trick against Mumbai though his splendid bowling effort went in vain as RCB lost that game.