Rajkot, Apr 13: After making impressive debuts in their respective openers, Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions will test each others' strengths when the two new entrants clash in the Indian Premier League (IPL), here on Thursday.
The two teams feature a lot of faces from the suspended Chennai Super Kings and at least six players, who played in the same side till last year, will now be in opposite camps.
Close friends and CSK teammates Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina will now be devising strategies as rival captains. Both have admitted that playing in a jersey other than 'yellow' has been very "emotional" but have promised to give their all for their new teams.
The Dhoni-led Pune Supergiants were very convincing and dominant when they handed defending champions Mumbai Indians a nine-wicket drubbing. They did not even require their middle order, packed with Dhoni himself and players such as Steven Smith, to come out with top-order delivering it for them comfortably.
The Lions though needed a proper team effort in taming Kings XI Punjab, who batted well but were pretty ordinary when they bowled. Aaron Finch was in good touch but the wayward Punjab bowlers only made his job easy.
The big positive for the Lions was the heart showed by the young Ishan Kishan. The Under-19 Indian captain played with a lot of gumption and his confident flick off Mitchell Johnson was a proof of that.
Dwayne Bravo continued his impressive form in T20s as he became the only IPL player to have a combo of 1000 runs and 100 wickets.
Overall, the Lions look like a good package but they will be tested by the Supergiants, who are looking the most formidable outfit this year in the League.
RP Singh with Mitchell Marsh will test their batsmen together along with quality spinners such as R Ashwin and M Ashwin. But it will be interesting to see if Dhoni continues to underbowl R Ashwin or lets him complete his full quota of overs.
Rising Pune Supergiants: MS Dhoni (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Jaskaran Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Albie Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Thisara Perera, Saurabh Tiwary, R P Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Ankush Bains, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina (Capt.), Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Dale Steyn, Pravin Tambe, Ishan Kishan, Ravindra Jadeja, Shadab Jakati, Dinesh Karthik, Shivil Kaushik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Praveen Kumar, Pradeep Sangwan, Jaydev Shah, Umang Sharma, Andrew Tye, Sarabjit Ladda, Akshdeep Nath, Amit Mishra, Paras Dogra, Eklavya Dwivedi.
Match Starts at 8 PM.
Channels: Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Kix.