Gujarat Lions looks to play party pooper as SRH eyes play-off berth

With Kings XI Punjab breathing down its neck only one point behind and the advantage of playing last, a win would be the last chance for SRH to ensure its own future instead of leaving it to others.

At home, Gujarat Lions will be hoping to get the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  AFP

Playing its last-ever IPL match before being disbanded and relegated to history, Gujarat Lions would not only want to go out on a high when it takes on Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Saturday, but also play party-pooper for the opposition that is struggling to ensure its spot in the playoffs.

Currently fourth on the table, SRH needs to win its last league match to make sure that happens. With Kings XI Punjab breathing down its neck only one point behind and the advantage of playing last, a win would be the last chance for SRH to ensure its own future instead of leaving it to others.

The league is shaping up nicely for an exciting weekend with even second-placed KKR still theoretically in the drop zone and KXIP, fifth now, in a position to make the cut. A win for SRH on Saturday would help it join Mumbai Indians in the top-four. For that, the defending champion would be hoping to repeat its all-round performance against table-topper MI in its previous outing.

With a finely-balanced side and both the top run-scorer (David Warner) and wicket-taker (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) in its ranks, coach Tom Moody doesn’t have too many worries in terms of performances. Besides Warner, he has the luxury of Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan and Moises Henriques to get the runs. Yuvraj Singh has been inconsistent but remains dangerous. With the ball, SRH has the Afghan duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi among the slower ones. Siddarth Kaul and Mohammed Siraj have done the job in the seam department.

If the team is still struggling, it is down to its losing crucial, close games. As such, Moody admitted that the only area he was looking to improve was consistency. For host GL, unfortunately, that is only one of the many struggles this season, injuries to key personnel being the other big concern.

Assistant coach Mohammad Kaif admitted that the absence of Dwayne Bravo was a big setback for the side. In addition, the team kept losing players including Andrew Tye and Brendon McCullum. Barring captain Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik, none has got enough runs but the bowling has been even more scratchy. That the inexperienced Basil Thampi has been its most successful bowler highlights the team's disappointing season.

With a 4 pm start in temperatures crossing 42 degrees, it won't be easy for either team at the Green Park Stadium. But the reward, at least for SRH, would be worth it.

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