RPS hosts Gujarat Lions in crucial IPL encounter

M. S. Dhoni will be pitted against former Chennai Super Kings team-mates Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Irfan Pathan and Suresh Raina.

M. S. Dhoni has been having a roller-coaster IPL season and will be looking to make a mark against his former team-mate Suresh Raina’s Gujarat Lions.   -  Sportzpics

Former team-mates will face off against each other when Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) plays Gujarat Lions (GL) in a night game in IPL 2017. M. S. Dhoni will be pitted against Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Irfan Pathan in the visiting squad, which will be captained by Suresh Raina. These six, who represented Chennai Super Kings once, are familiar with each other’s abilities and nurse a healthy respect for each other.

Pathan is a late addition to GL squad as injury replacement for Dwayne Bravo, and is adjusting to responsibility. Raina had confidence in him for the last over against Mumbai Indians and almost won the game. Jadeja, subdued so far following recovery from an injury, can strike form any moment. The sight of his ex-IPL captain in RPS colours may be the impetus to trigger a match-winning show.

Out-manoeuvred by Mumbai Indians in the Super Over, Raina looked deflated in GL’s home game at SCA stadium. The left-hander is in flowing form with the bat and is one of the proactive leaders this IPL. He was one of the pillars of Dhoni’s title-winning CSK and is so competitive that restraining the RPS big-hitter using bowling resources will be satisfying. Hat-trick man Andrew Tye is out of the tournament though.

GL banked on McCullum for flying starts and the New Zealander has not disappointed. He is the second highest run-maker for the visitors after nine matches (274 against Raina’s 310). Smith’s power in clearing the field in powerplays as opener is known to Dhoni, whose assertive displays behind the wickets and at the crease has benefited the home team.

RPS has forged into a combative unit under Steve Smith. With the exception of opener Ajinkya Rahane, the batting order is no cause for alarm. The bowlers respond smartly to match situations. Ben Stokes’ return to the squad will give the home team skipper more options. The England all-rounder is being nursed back to fitness. Both sides need a victory to stay in running for the knock-outs. GL is fifth, one place behind the home team.