$2 at Sportsbet.com.au
Table position: 2nd
IPL form: L L W L W
$1.90 at Bet365
Table position: 5th
IPL form: W L W L W
Gujarat Lions may be second in the 2016 Indian Premier League standings with one match to go, but their place in the final four remains far from assured.
With Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils all capable of reaching 16 points (at the time of writing), the Lions could slide out of the playoff spots altogether if three of those sides win their remaining fixtures.
The task is clear for Suresh Raina and company: win on Saturday and guarantee a top-two finish, or leave their title hopes in the lap of the gods.
The Lions bring some interesting form into the final stages of their maiden IPL season. They were humiliated to the tune of 144 runs by Royal Challengers Bangalore last weekend, only to bounce back with a six-wicket victory over KKR on Thursday.
The top of the order is the biggest concern, as both Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith have tapered off after some strong early form.
Their last six innings have produced a combined total of 120 runs, with neither passing 30. Over the same period, Virat Kohli has scored three centuries and a 75 not out for RCB.
The obvious solution would be to reinstate Aaron Finch, who scored three 50s earlier in the season – including a match-winning knock against Mumbai – before shuffling down the order to accomodate Smith.
Indians coach Ricky Ponting made a similar move last weekend, ditching Unmukt Chand and bringing in Martin Guptill for only his second appearance of the season.
The New Zealander justified his place with a composed 48 in the 80-run win over Delhi Daredevils, anchoring the innings as Krunal Pandya (86) and Rohit Sharma (31) swung for the fences en route to a total of 206.
Mumbai need another result like that to have any chance of reaching the 2016 IPL playoffs.
While they are level on points with Kolkata and Bangalore, a negative run rate (-0.082) means the defending champions will miss out on finals unless they notch a convincing win this weekend.
The cattle is there: everyone knows how dangerous Rohit and Guptill can be, while Mitchell McClenaghan has led the bowling attack with distinction.
But the advantage is with the Lions, who triumphed by three wickets when these two met at the Wankhede Stadium in April.
Last Gujarat Lions XI
- Brendon McCullum
- Dwayne Smith
- Suresh Raina (captain)
- Dinesh Karthik
- Aaron Finch
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Dwayne Bravo
- Eklavya Dwivedi
- Praveen Kumar
- Shadab Jakati
- Dhawal Kulkarni
Last Mumbai Indians XI
- Rohit Sharma (captain)
- Martin Guptill
- Krunal Pandya
- Kieron Pollard
- Jos Buttler
- Ambati Rayudu
- Nitish Rana
- Harbhajan Singh
- R Vinay Kumar
- Mitchell McClenaghan
- Jasprit Bumrah
Aaron Finch IPL bets
It’s hard to say why Gujarat persist with playing one of the IPL’s most bankable openers in the middle order.
It would make sense if his replacement was firing on all cylinders, but Smith has hardly set the world alight (at least not with the bat).
Meanwhile, Finch has continued to rack up runs despite the limited opportunities that come with batting at number five in T20 cricket.
A quick glance at the Lions’ season shows they were at their peak when the Aussie was flying at the top of the order.
Even if he doesn’t get promoted, his record down the list makes Finch a standout for the IPL top runscorer markets.
Top Lions batsman – $4.50 (Bet365)
Man of the match – $9 (Bet365)
Mitchell McClenaghan betting markets
Mumbai’s Kiwi quick heads into the last weekend of the regular season as the best bowler in Indian Premier League 2016.
McClenaghan has 17 wickets from his 13 matches, taken at an average of 23.4 and an impressive 17.4 strike rate.
The 29-year-old’s biggest weapons, as contradictory as they may seem, are consistency and variety.
He has gone wicketless only once in his last nine outings, contributing games after game with his mixed bag of well-executed yorkers, bouncers, cutters and slower balls.
Big plays in big moments are what the Indians need, and that’s what McClenaghan does.
Top Mumbai bowler – $3.75 (Bet365)
Man of the match – $19 (Bet365)
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