Home advantage, Livingstone’s presence could work for Kings against formidable Titans

Big picture: Gujarat Titans look to bounce back

Rinku Singh did to Gujarat Titans an extreme version of what they did to teams last year. In fact, their next opponents, Punjab Kings, last year had every reason to believe they had done enough when they got Hardik Pandya first ball of the last over with 18 still to get, but Rahul Tewatia won Titans the match with two sixes off the last two balls.

When Titans come up against Kings in Mohali on Thursday, they will have to quickly bounce back from the five-sixes finish from Rinku, which lost them what seemed an unlosable game. Kings, coming off a loss themselves, will try to cash in on any residual effect of the defeat Titans suffered.

On the line in this match is a ticket into the early top three. Both teams have won two games each in their first three matches. Titans have looked the more formidable side, but Kings will look to use their home advantage to the fullest.

Team news: Liam Livingstone is here

After a long wait, Liam Livingstone is finally in Mohali and training at the nets. If he plays, this will be his first formal cricket match since he jarred his knee on Test debut in Pakistan in December. He should take Matt Short’s place in the XI. There might be temptation to play Kagiso Rabada, but Nathan Ellis has not done badly at all. If they bat first, Kings could think of bringing one of them in as Impact Player.

Hardik Pandya was unwell and missed the last match, but should be available for this encounter.

Toss and Impact Player strategy

Punjab Kings
In the last match, Kings started without Sikandar Raza to see if they could squeeze in Rabada during the second innings. A collapse with the bat meant Raza had to be substituted in. Now, though, Livingstone’s arrival could make Kings go with a more conventional side.

Probable bat-first XI: 1 Prabhsimran Singh, 2 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 5 Liam Livingstone, 6 Sam Curran, 7 M Shahrukh Khan, 8 Harpreet Brar, 9 Nathan Ellis, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh

Probable field-first XI: 1 Shikhar Dhawan (capt), 2 Jitesh Sharma (wk), 3 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 4 Liam Livingstone, 5 Sam Curran, 6 M Shahrukh Khan, 7 Harpreet Brar, 8 Rishi Dhawan, 9 Nathan Ellis, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Arshdeep Singh

Gujarat Titans
Hardik should replace Abhinav Manohar in the bat-first XI while it remains to be seen if they show faith in Yash Dayal or give him a break after that fateful last over to Rinku. It is not a bad time to introduce the impressive left-arm spinner, R Sai Kishore. Their Impact Player scene seems sorted: Sai Sudharsan starts if they bat first, Josh Little if they field.

Probable bat-first XI: 1 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Sai Sudharsan, 4 Hardik Pandya (capt), 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 David Miller, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 R Sai Kishore

Probable field-first XI: 1 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Hardik Pandya (capt), 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Alzarri Joseph, 9 Josh Little, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 R Sai Kishore

Stats that matter

  • Livingstone has scored 119 runs off 69 balls against Rashid Khan: an average of 30 and a strike rate of 173.
  • Mohammed Shami has never dismissed Shikhar Dhawan, who strikes at 149 against him.
  • At 70.5%, the Kings top three have made the second-biggest contribution to their team’s total this IPL, behind only Royal Challengers Bangalore.
  • Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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