IPL 2017 T20: Gujarat Lions seek victorious start at home against Kolkata Knight Riders
Gujarat Lions had defeated Kolkata Knight Riders in both legs of the league phase last year and will want to continue that dominance when they lock horns in their first IPL 2017 league match in Rajkot.ipl 2017 Updated: Apr 07, 2017 01:16 IST
Hosts Gujarat Lions will want to continue their dominance over Kolkata Knight Riders this season as well as they gear up for their inaugural match of the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League, here on Friday.
Group leaders last season, Lions had defeated the Knights in both the fixtures before crashing out of the IPL after losing both their Qualifiers. They did manage to surprise everyone by topping the table, but couldn’t reach the Promised Land.
However, having roped in 11 players in the auction this time around, the Lions will hope that they have finally addressed the existing problems.
With a formidable side that has the likes of Brendon McCullum, Jason Roy and captain Suresh Raina; Gujarat Lions should be able to start the season on a positive note once again before India’s go-to man Ravindra Jadeja joins the squad to fit in the role of a handy spin bowling all-rounder.
On the other hand, the Knights would not just want to turn the statistics around; they would want to ensure that Andre Russell’s absence doesn’t hurt the team structure too badly.
The Caribbean all-rounder was a vital cog in captain Gautam Gambhir’s scheme of things and will be a difficult void to fill in.
However, the fans can be a relieved lot as Colin de Grandhomme, brought in as a replacement for Russell, has a T20 strike rate of 171.04. The Knights are also set to miss the services of Umesh Yadav early on in the tournament with Chris Woakes or Nathan Coulter-Nile likely to spearhead the pace attack.
The Knights’ batting strength lies in the experience of their domestic cricketers. Having retained their core team for quite a while now, the likes of Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey are all capable of piling up enough runs on the board for the wily Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Shakib Al Hasan to defend along with their pace battery.
It should be an interesting contest between the uncapped Ishan Kishan and Ishank Jaggi as well, who were instrumental to East Zone’s success in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and will be eager to continue their form. Both are capable of hitting big and providing the platform higher in the order for others to follow.
However, for the Lions, it should be an irresistible move to pair Roy with McCullum in the opening slot with Kishan to come lower down the order. They also have Aaron Finch and James Faulkner, both of whom can turn a match on its head on their own.
Thus, while Raina’s men will bank on their home advantage and past glory over the Knights, it shouldn’t be a walk in the park against the two-time champions.