Gujarat Lions v Lucknow Super Giants
Monday 28 March, 14:00
TV: live on Sky Sports
Gujarat's awful auction
Gujarat were guilty of showing their inexperience in the Mega Auction. Or more precisely, in the business they did ahead of the actual auction.
Quite why they were so desperate to spend so much money on Hardik Pandya is hard to understand.
He's hardly bowled in the last couple of years so is no longer classed as an all-rounder. He may decide to bat himself at four for his new team but he really shouldn't be batting that high in the first place. You also have to wonder why they were so keen to make him captain, given he has little or no experience of on-field leadership.
You'd have thought that when you're a new franchise you'd want a man who's seen it all before as an IPL captain in charge of proceedings.
But no. They spent a big chunk of their budget on Pandya and then another big chunk on Rashid Khan, though the latter is at least a world-class performer who has won many an IPL game single-handedly.
Add in the signings of the somewhat pedestrian Shubman Gill, has-been David Miller and bits-and-pieces man Vijay Shankar and you have to wonder what they were doing in the auction.
At least the bowling looks strong with Kahn, Mohammad Shami and Lockie Ferguson.
Alzarri Joseph is on West Indies duty in the Third and final Test so is unavailable.
Gill, Gurbaz, Shankar, Wade, Hardik, Tewatia, Saha, Rashid Khan, Ferguson, Shami, Varun Aaron
Lucknow don't look too bad
I think Lucknow are actually being a bit under-rated in the winner market at around 12.0. Yes, they're also a new franchise and it will take time to get in the swing of things but I quite like their roster.
There's not much wrong with an opening partnership of Quinton de Kock and KL Rahul, arguably the best batsman in the IPL.
Krunal Pandya is very reliable, as is Jason Holder, who has an excellent record with the ball in this tournament.
Ravi Bishnoi is one of the bright young things of Indian cricket while Deepak Hooda was recently involved for India in a T20 Series so has obviously been in decent touch.
They're arguably a top-class fast bowler short after Mark Wood got injured and was replaced by the ageing Andrew Tye but Avesh Khan should be good for a load more wickets this year after an excellent season in 2021.
Holder is away with the West Indies.
Rahul, De Kock, Pandey, Stoinis, Deepak Hooda, Krunal, Tye, Chameera, Bishnoi, Avesh
The Wankhede has always been a good pitch for batting on. Not that you'd know it from the way CSK batted against KKR, though there was also a dreadful run-out and a fine stumping among that flurry of early wickets.
We haven't had any IPL cricket played here for a year and a half.
So, it's hard to predict what the par score might be but the captain winning the toss will surely want to chase, which is the way to go here.
Mumbai the pick
Lucknow are 2.26/5 outsiders and that will do me just fine.
I said they look a decent team and I said I don't like the look of Gujarat one bit so it follows that I don't think KL Rahul's' men should be outsiders here.
Yes, they'll miss Holder who is a world-class all-rounder but that's not enough to put me off.
I think they'll be better led, have a far better opening partnership with the bat and just see no reason why they should be outsiders.
That may all sound a it simplistic but at this stage of proceedings, and until we've seen more of these two new teams, those are good enough reasons for me.
Pandya too big
In a somewhat dodgy-looking batting line-up at Gujarat, the skipper looks the best of a bad bunch, or at last he certainly does in terms of price.
Gill (12/5) is ok but can get bogged down and though the care-free approach of Rahmanullah Gurbaz (7/2)is good to get off to fast starts, he doesn't always hang around for that long.
We'll have to wait and see where its that Matthew Wade (7/2) bats for them. It could be as an opener, as a number four or at six or seven, as he did for Australia at the World Cup. He's hardly played any IPL either so all things considered, we don't like his price.
Vijay Shankar has a poor strike rate in the IPL but if he bats at three, the 8/1 will be a good price based pretty much purely on where he's going to bat.
Given he may not bowl and can bat where he likes and I can't see Pandya (9/1) batting any lower than five, maybe four. It hasn't been a great couple of years for him but he's got the shots and the power to get to a quick 40 or 50. It may just be enough and it's a really big price, so that makes up our mind.