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by Mayukh Bhattacharya Friday 7 April 2017
08:00pm local time (02:30pm GMT), April 7, 2017
Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Umesh Yadav and Andre Russell – four big names that are going to be missing from a contest between two of the better balanced sides of the tournament. While Russell is serving a doping ban, the other three are recovering from injuries. Leading the Gujarat Lions (GL) and the two time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), would be two out of favor Indian internationals in Suresh Raina and Gautam Gambhir respectively.
With the kind of impact Bravo has had in the IPL, it is almost impossible for the Lions to replace a player of his caliber. This would only mean that there would be added pressure on the likes of Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner and Aaron Finch. With Jadeja also out with a troublesome spinning finger, Shahdab Jakati and the highly unorthodox Shivil Kaushik will have to be on top of their games.
Kolkata on the other hand have replaced Russell with the big hitting Colin de Grandhomme but it needs to be seen whether his medium pace can be as effective as the hostile bowling of Russell. Kuldeep Yadav having made a name for himself on test debut and Chris Lynn having an excellent Big Bash and they would be hoping to get the Knight Riders off to a strong start.
Both teams would be reliant on their batting given that their bowling attacks have been depleted by injuries. The addition of Trent Boult and Chris Woakes to the KKR side become even more crucial now that Yadav is out injured. For the Lions, the tried and tested Indian domestic duo of Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni will be expected to deliver the goods.
GL – LLWWL
KKR - LWLLW
While the batting looks sorted, the Lions will have to choose between mystery spinner Kaushik and leg spinner Shubham Agarwal for the second slow bowling option. Kaushik’s prior IPL experience might just give him the edge over Agarwal.
Gujarat Lions - 1 Brendon McCullum, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Suresh Raina (c ), 4 Aaron Finch, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Ishan Kishan, 7 James Faulkner, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Shahdab Jakati, 10 Dhawal Kulkarni, 11 Shivil Kaushik/ Shubham Agarwal
With Shakib al Hasan away on national duty, Chris Lynn should get a game. However, KKR will have to take a call as to whether they should go for England all-rounder Woakes or the big hitting de Grandhomme as their fourth overseas option.
Kolkata Knight Riders - 1 Gautam Gambhir (c ), 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Chris Lynn, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Suryakumar Yadav, 7 Chris Woakes/ Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Sunil Narine, 10 Ankit Rajpoot, 11 Trent Boult