Supergiants faces rampaging Gujarat Lions

Gujarat Lions, one of the two new teams besides Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants, is at the top of the points table with five wins in six outings.

Despite Rising Pune SUpergiants faring well, Suresh Raina, the batsman, hasn’t yet flourished in the new coloured clothing.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

They have been sharing the India dressing room for over a decade now. They are close buddies on and off the field. And for the first eight editions of the Indian Premier League, they were the pillars of Chennai Super Kings.

Naturally, when M.S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina were forced to wear new jerseys at the start of the IPL’s 2016 edition, the focus was on how they would fare in new colours during the annual Twenty20 league. Three weeks into the tournament, it appears as if both are trying to cope with the changed environment in different ways.

When it comes to the win-loss ratio, Raina seems to have fared much better than his India and Chennai Super Kings captain. Gujarat Lions, one of the two new teams besides Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants, is at the top of the points table with five wins in six outings. Naturally, the odds will be in favour of the visiting team as both the teams will square off against each other at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium on Friday night.

However, despite the team faring well and Raina, the leader, having impressed so far, Raina, the batsman, hasn’t yet flourished in the new coloured clothing. The highest-run getter in IPL history has had just one substantial contribution with the willow in six games, 75 off 51 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad. Incidentally, that was the only match in which Lions failed to cross the line.

On the contrary, Dhoni has lived up to his reputation with the bat. His tally of 92 runs from five outings may not appear impressive but considering the fact that he has batted in the ‘death overs’ most of the times, his strike rate of almost 140 indicates he has delivered when required. Don’t be surprised if he pushes himself up in the order on Friday, considering the forced team combination due to du Plessis’ unavailability.

Surprisingly, Dhoni, the captain, has found the going tough in the Supergiants’ jersey. Despite winning their last game in Hyderabad two nights ago, Supergiants will have to beat the table-topper to elevate themselves in the middle of the table.

It would be fair to say that Dhoni’s captaincy has been let down by lacklustre performances by both the departments. The bowlers have consistently erred with lengths while the batting unit has failed to make up for the bowlers’ unimpressive showing.

Despite the deficiencies, the fact that neither Dhoni nor Raina has so far been able to lead his team single-handedly to a win has been odd considering the IPL is nearing halfway stage. Come Friday and both the camps would be hoping for that box to be ticked.

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