The Match No.6 of IPL 2016 will witness the two new entrants, Gujarat Lions and Rising Pune Supergiants face off at Rajkot. This fixture will have a lot of emotion and spice attached, considering a few ex-teammates from Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals would be up against each other. Once friends, now the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja and James Faulkner will be competing against their once team mates MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane. Both the teams started of their IPL campaign with wins, in a very convincing fashion.
The Gujarat side was inspired by an wonderful bowling display by Bravo, and later an outstanding batting performance by Aaron Finch while chasing down 162. RPS on the other hand had it easy, beating the defending champions Mumbai Indians. A combination of brilliant bowling and intelligent batting meant they chased down 126 without breaking a sweat. This fixture provides both the teams an opportunity to stamp their authority amongst each other. With so much compassion heading to the game, we take a look at the key battles which can propel either side to a win.
1. Aaron Finch vs Ishant Sharma: The No.2 T20 ranked batsman in the world, Finch has been sublime in the shortest format of the game. And he continued his recent success with the bat by scoring a breathtaking 47-ball 74, which laid the platform for his side’s win. The best attribute about Finch has been his ability to handle spin as well as pace, that most of Australian’s struggle with. If RPS stand any chance of limiting Gujarat side, Ishant Sharma will need to be at his best. Sharma bowled quite well in the first game, removing both the openers. For MS Dhoni’s side, it is very necessary Sharma gets Finch early or else expect another scintillating knock by the Australian.
2. Ajinkya Rahane vs Praveen Kumar: A player with a touch of class, Rahane was a vital cog in the Rajasthan Royals’ side all over the years. His transition to his new side though, seems very smooth. A 42-ball 66 in the game against Mumbai involved some brilliant strokes as well as singles. He proved his detractors wrong by his performance, which was a calculated mixture of aggression and calmness. It will be a challenge to keep him quiet, but Praveen Kumar will hope to take it up. In a mid-high scoring game, Kumar’s spell was hugely impressive in the first game. While his wickets column was empty, he made sure to make it up by not conceding runs. Against RPS though, he would be expected to add wickets to his tally, and watch out how Rahane performs against him.
3. Kevin Pietersen vs Dwayne Bravo: It seemed time rolled back over the years, as Kevin Pietersen smashed two sixes of Harbhajan Singh in the first game. A player with immense talents and the founder of ‘switch-hit’, KP has been a shadow of former self in the past couple of years. Marred by injury and form, it seems this season’s IPL will be the heal to all the past problems. His brief knock against MI must have served Gujarat a warning. The protagonist in-charge to keep him quiet will be the ‘Champion’ sensation Bravo. His song may have created sensation around the world, but his bowling is the one still doing the talking. His bowling figures of 4 for 22 against Kings XI, which included the special ‘slower-yorker’, saw him become the all-time leading wicket taker in T20 format. A direct contest between a wonderful batsman and a special all-rounder, the game will have huge bearing on how one of these perform.
While there are numerous other quality players like Suresh Raina, James Faulkner Brendon McCullum, MS Dhoni, Faf du Plessis, Steven Smith, the above three key battles will have a huge role to play in the bearing of the result.