Rajkot: Packed with an array of brilliant players, Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore meet in Rajkot today in what is being billed as a clash of the titans.
Virat Kohli congratulates AB de Villiers after the latter's half-century in Pune on Friday. Pic/PTI
The presence of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the match has generated much interest and excitement among the locals and all the tickets have already been sold out.
In fact, there are reports of touts selling tickets at astronomically higher rates and desperate cricket lovers are willingly buying. The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium has a capacity of only 28,000 and those armed with tickets are considering themselves lucky.
The Lions and the Challengers have played four matches each and have secured six and four points respectively. After making their IPL debut with a hat-trick of wins, the Lions tasted their first defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday. The Challengers began their campaign with a handsome victory, then lost two matches, but came back strongly against Rising Pune Supergiants on Friday.
The terrific form of Kohli (75, 79, 33, 80) and De Villiers (82, 55, 29, 83) is a major concern for the Lions, whose bowling was thoroughly exposed by David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, when they were involved in an unbeaten match-winning 137-run opening partnership.
Besides bowling, chinks were also noticed in the Lions' batting line-up when opener Aaron Finch, the scorer of three consecutive match-winning fifties, failed to open his account against Sunrisers. The good thing for the Lions is their captain Suresh Raina has finally regained his original touch, or so it seems, if his outstanding 75 in a losing cause is anything to go by.
All this points to one thing: Regardless of the points tally, the Challengers have a clear edge over the Lions even though there is little to separate them as far as bowling is concerned. Kohli & Co, who decided against practice in Rajkot, must be licking their lips at the prospect of plundering runs on a flat wicket and add to the Lions' wounds.