Suresh Raina is behemoth when it comes to the Indian Premier League. He is the leading run-getter with 4416 runs at an average of 34. The left-hander is one of only three batsmen to play over 150 matches and is also the first batsman in the history of IPL to score 300 runs in each edition.
Brendon McCullum has dazzled the IPL ever since he smashed 158 for Kolkata Knight Riders against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural match of the T20 league in 2008. In every IPL since then, the former New Zealand skipper has given fans some breathtaking moments with the bat.
In the 2017 edition, Raina and McCullum have the same aggregate, 318 runs in 10 games but Gujarat Lions are in a bad position. They have won only three games and are seventh in the points table. The other batsmen have failed to deliver, and thus Gujarat Lions find themselves in a position where they face a must-win situation in every game.
Lack of major contributions
Barring McCullum and Raina, rest of the Gujarat Lions batting has been dismal. The top order has contributed just six fifty-plus scores, equal with bottom-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore and sixth-placed Delhi Daredevils. When one looks at the top four teams, their number is much more. Only Kings XI Punjab have a worse fifty-plus score contribution, with just five.
Rising Pune Supergiant have seven, Mumbai Indians eight and Sunrisers Hyderabad 12 while Kolkata Knight Riders have a whopping 13 fifty-plus scores from their batsmen. It is this kind of contribution that has seen teams maintain a winning momentum and stay on top, something that has been missing from the Gujarat Lions campaign this year.
Raina’s 84 against Kolkata Knight Riders helped the team win. Aaron Finch’s blazing 72 off 34 balls gave them a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. In between those knocks, contributions from the top order batsmen have been minimal. Dinesh Karthik’s 58* came when the next highest score was 32 by Raina. McCullum’s 72 against Royal Challengers Bangalore was supplemented only by Ishan Kishan’s 39.
The lack of contributions from the top order has put Gujarat Lions in this position. With only four games remaining, Raina and McCullum will be hoping they do not continue to wage a lonely war and that the top order comes good.