In IPL’s First, It is Dhoni vs Raina

The Economic Times - - Sports -

Af ter mak­ing i mpres­sive de - buts in their re­spec­tive open­ers, Ris­ing Pune Su­per­giants and Gu­jarat Lions will test each oth­ers' strengths when the two new en­trants clash on Wed­nes­day.

The two teams fea­ture a lot of faces from the sus­pended Chen­nai Su­per Kings and at least six play­ers, who played in the same side till last year, will now be in op­po­site camps. Close friends and CSK team­mates Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina will now be de­vis­ing strate­gies as ri­val cap­tains. Both have ad­mit­ted that play­ing in a jersey other than 'yel­low' has been very ‘emo­tional’ but have promised to give their all for their new teams.

The Dhoni-led Pune Su­per­giants were very con­vinc­ing and dom­i­nant when they handed de­fend­ing champions Mum­bai In­di­ans a nine-wicket drub­bing.

They did not even re­quire their mid­dle or­der, packed with Dhoni him­self and play­ers such as Steven Smith, to come out with top-or­der de­liv­er­ing it for them com­fort­ably.

The Lions though needed a proper team ef­fort in tam­ing Kings XI Pun­jab, who bat­ted well but were pretty or­di­nary when they bowled. Aaron Finch was in good touch but the way­ward Pun­jab bowlers only made his job easy. The big pos­i­tive for the Lions was the heart showed by the young Ishan Kis­han. The Un­der-19 In­dian cap­tain played with a lot of gump­tion and his con­fi­dent flick off Mitchell John­son was a proof of that.

Dwayne Bravo con­tin­ued his im­pres­sive form in T20s as he be­came the only IPL player to have a combo of 1000 runs and 100 wick­ets.

Over­all, the Lions look like a good pack­age but they wil l be tested by the Su­per­giants, who are look­ing the most for­mi­da­ble out­fit this year in the League. RP Singh with Mitchell Marsh will test their bats­men to­gether along with qual­ity spin­ners such as R Ash­win and M Ash­win. But it will be in­ter­est­ing to see if Dhoni con­tin­ues to un­der­bowl R Ash­win or lets him com­plete his full quota of overs.

"He (Bravo) is an enor­mous guy. He is not slow­ing down as he keeps get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter with age. He brings so much to the ta­ble with bat and ball," Finch com­pli­mented the West In­dies all-rounder.

AARON FINCH

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