The three-wicket defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders three nights ago in Ahmedabad was a gut-wrenching result for Gujarat Titans, which had seemingly all but grabbed the ascendancy with a flurry of wickets. But by the time Rinku Singh was done with Yash Dayal, Titans had long relinquished their superiority.
It’s on the heels of this setback that GT will aim to get its IPL 2023 campaign back on track when it takes on Punjab Kings at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali on Thursday. Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya, who was unwell and missed the last match, should be available for this encounter.
Both teams have had similar starts to the season, with GT winning two games and losing one, and PBKS following the same sequence.
Liam Livingstone, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Kagiso Rabada are available for the Kings. It remains to be seen if they will leave out an in-form Nathan Ellis for Rabada. Livingstone or Rajapaksa can take Matt Short’s place in the XI.
Rabada can be a favourable matchup against David Miller, who has played a key role for Titans in the middle order. In 31 balls he has bowled to Miller in T20s, Rabada has conceded only 32 runs while dismissing him twice.
Meanwhile, Kings have benefitted from the form of captain Shikhar Dhawan, who has 225 runs in three matches. He has looked to bat through, while others around him have tried to be aggressive from the get-go.
PBKS is yet to bowl first this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how its batting holds up under scoreboard pressure. Meanwhile, Kings’ death-bowling skills have come into sharp focus. These are still early days in the season, but their death-over economy of 16.25 is the worst among the 10 sides. Ellis, Sam Curran, and Arshdeep Singh have repeatedly missed their lengths between overs 17 and 20, something they can’t afford against a Titans batting unit that goes at close to 13 runs per over at the death.
Rashid Khan usually prefers bowling outside the PowerPlay but the Titans could use him against Dhawan. Rashid has dismissed the left-hander four times in 56 balls while conceding only 53 runs in all T20s.
PBKS could rely on Livingstone to neutralise the Rashid threat. He has smacked 119 runs off 69 balls against Rashid in T20 cricket, at an astonishing strike rate of 173.
Dayal must still be feeling the aftershocks of the KKR drubbing, where he conceded 31 in a scarcely believable last over. If rested, Pradeep Sangwan could play his first IPL match this year.