Punjab Kings vs Gujarat Titans: Ferguson vs Livingstone could be one of IPL’s hottest battles


PTI

Mumbai, April 7

Gujarat Titans’ lethal pace attack is all set to ask some probing questions to the dynamic Punjab Kings top-order when the two teams lock horns in an IPL match on Friday.

In terms of composition and balance, both Gujarat and Punjab are very different and that makes for an enticing contest on a Brabourne Stadium track where runs are always on offer.

Punjab in their three games have shown that the approach this year would be to go hammer and tongs during the Powerplay overs and set the tempo for the rest of the innings.

In IPL however, there are some intriguing sub-plots that make it an engaging Friday. It will be a battle between Punjab’s costliest buy (apart from skipper Mayank Agarwal’s retention) Liam Livingstone and New Zealand’s speed merchant Lockie Ferguson.

Having literally terrorised Delhi Capitals’ Mandeep Singh with his pace and steep bounce in the earlier game, expect Ferguson to unleash his thunderbolts on Livingstone, who had taken the CSK attack to cleaners in the previous game with his 32-ball-60.

Ferguson and Mohammed Shami make for the most potent new ball pair after the first two weeks. With head coach Anil Kumble they would like to devise a strategy to keep Punjab Kings under check during the Powerplay overs.

Hardik Pandya again bowling full tilt and touching 140 clicks also adds to the potency of the Gujarat attack but their batting still looks a bit questionable save Shubman Gill and skipper Pandya.

While senior openers Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Agarwal are yet to make significant contributions, it would be an onerous job against the Titans attack.

It is the middle-order of Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Livingstone and newcomer Jitesh Sharma, that is expected to provide fireworks with M Shahrukh Khan and Odean Smith at the rear.

They would like to target the weak Indian bowlers like Rahul Tewatia and Varun Aaron, who is known for leaking runs in all these years of IPL.

However where Gujarat might face problems is in the batting front. Shubhman Gill is the only assured batter they have till now.

In the first match against Lucknow, they didn’t have to chase much and the second game saw them defend 170 odd purely because of their opening bowling depth.

Vijay Shankar as a top-order batter has looked far from convincing and Matthew Wade hasn’t yet hit the rhythm although he is capable of big hits.

Abhinav Manohar is very new at this stage while Tewatia and David Miller aren’t exactly known for their consistency.

In case of Punjab, they have two match-winning bowlers in Kagiso Rabada and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar but Arshdeep Singh, debutant Vaibhav Arora and Livingstione himself did a commendable job against Chennai.

Teams

Punjab Kings (from): Mayank Agarwal ©, Shikhar Dhawan, Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Jonny Bairstow, Rahul Chahar, Harpreet Brar, Shahrukh Khan, Prabhsimran Singh, Jitesh Sharma, Ishan Porel, Liam Livingstone, Odean Smith, Sandeep Sharma, Raj Angad Bawa, Rishi Dhawan, Prerak Mankad, Vaibhav Arora, Writtick Chatterjee, Baltej Dhanda, Ansh Patel, Nathan Ellis, Atharva Taide, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, Benny Howell.

Gujarat Titans: Hardik Pandya (Captain), Rashid Khan, Shubman Gill, Mohammed Shami, Lockie Ferguson, Abhinav Sadarangani, Rahul Tewatia, Noor Ahmed, Sai Kishore, Vijay Shankar, Jayant Yadav, Dominic Drakes, Darshan Nalkande, Yash Dayal, Alzarri Joseph, Pradeep Sangwan, David Miller, Wriddhiman Saha, Matthew Wade, Varun Aaron, B Sai Sudharshan.

Match starts at 7:30 pm.

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