The IPL fever is back with a bang and is picking up its pace in the country with the initial two games being worth the money. The third fixture will have last year's table toppers Gujarat Lions and former Champions Kolkata Knight Riders locking horns at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot.
Gujarat Lions will look to start their campaign like they did last year when they finished at the top of the table by the end of the league stage. They failed to lift the trophy as they finished third after defeats in the two Qualifiers against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The Suresh Raina-led side would look to go one step up in only their second season this time around.
Gujarat Lions has a sturdy batting line up with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch, Suresh Raina and newly acquired destructive English opener Jason Roy. They have a decent bowling line-up with the likes of Dhawal Kulkarni and Praveen Kumar. They would miss the services of Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo as they are out owing to injuries.
The two-time IPL champion side, Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, have a pretty balanced side with the likes of Robin Uthappa, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan and Chris Lynn. They have acquired the services of Chris Woakes and Nathan Coulter-Nile to sharpen their bowling attack with the spin department being handled by Piyush Chawla, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, and mystery man Sunil Narine.
Gujarat Lions will have a psychological advantage as they defeated KKR in both home and away games last season.
Let's have a look at the top fantasy picks from our side:
TOP FANTASY PICK: BATSMAN
Jason Roy: He is a destructive opening batsman who has the ability to take the game away from the opposition in no time with his clean hits. His batting skills were on a show last year during the ICC T20 World Cup held in India where he scored 183 runs at a strike rate of 148.78. Roy is also flexible in the middle order and will be an important prospect in this year's IPL
TOP FANTASY PICK: BOWLER
Nathan Coulter-Nile: The Australian speedster is a great asset for the Kolkata Knight Riders without Morne Morkel in their side. He will boost their pace department and is always handy in the death overs with his off-cutters and slower bouncers troubling the batsman in the death.
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 4, 2017
TOP FANTASY PICK: ALL-ROUNDER
Shakib Al Hasan: The ICC Number One ranked T20 allrounder has been a pillar for KKR. He has scored 497 runs in 42 matches at a strike rate of just over 130 and picked up 43 wickets with an economy of 7.1. Shakib has been one of the main reasons for KKR's consistency in recent times as he has won them crucial matches many times.
TOP PUNT PLAYER
Yusuf Pathan: He has always been a hard hitting batsman and a crucial member of the team in the middle order, having rescued the team out of troubled waters many times. He has 140 sixes in 122 innings to his name and has looked a more responsible batsman last season. A pinch hitter who can dismantle any bowling attack, he will be the player to look out against the Gujarat Lions.
GUJARAT LIONS VS KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS PROBABLE XI:
Gujarat Lions: Suresh Raina(c), Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jason Roy, Praveen Kumar, Ishan Kishan, Shivil Koushik, James Faulkner, Shadab Jakati
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir(c), Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Chris Woakes, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Ankit Rajpoot, Nathan Coulter Nile Rishi Dhawan
You can tune into Sony Six (for English) and Sony Max (for Hindi) on your Television sets to enjoy the live action from Rajkot. You can also watch the live streaming of the match on Hotstar from 8 pm onwards.