Mumbai: Armed with hard-hitting all-rounders, new entrants Gujarat Titans and Lucknow Super Giants would aim to start their IPL campaign on a winning note when they square off here on Monday.
Gujarat could most likely open with young Shubman Gill and Afghanistan batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who is also a wicket-keeper.
The duo can take any opposition attack to task but would need to be wary of the bounce at the Wankhede stadium.
Gujarat would heavily bank on the performance of their skipper Hardik Pandya, who has loads of experience playing at the Wankhede with Mumbai Indians.
Known for his six-hitting prowess, Hardik this season will have to take more responsibility with the bat and also bat higher up the order.
And ditto for Rahul Tewatia, who would need to shed his one match IPL wonder tag. Tewatia has already said that he would need to take more responsibility with the willow.
Another key all-rounder for them is Vijay Shankar and his four overs with his medium pace could also make the difference. The three on their day can single-handedly win the game and they would hope that come Monday, they can fire in unison.
Someone like Karnataka’s Abhinav Manohar would need to shoulder responsibility in the middle order along with David Miller.
Key pacer Mohammed Shami will lead the bowling attack and would be looking for a successful run to make a strong case for selection in the India squad for the World Cup in Australia later this year.
Another important cog in their wheel is leggie Rashid Khan, who could relish bowling on the Wankhede track.
For Lucknow, a lot rests on their skipper KL Rahul, who could open the batting with South African Quinton De Kock. With wide range of shots at their disposal, the duo can pummel any attack to submission.
Lucknow too have an array of all-rounders in Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya and West Indian Jason Holder, and their role with the bat in the middle order along with Manish Pandey, a seasoned campaigner, is vital.
Another option for the team management is Evin Lewis, an explosive batter.
The bowlers led by Avesh Khan would need to bowl tightly to stop Gujarat batters and another important cog in their wheel is Ravi Bishnoi, who can deceive the batters with his googlies.
It remains to be seen whether the team management play an extra pacer or a spinner and considering that the first game was a low-scoring affair and dew played a part, team winning the toss, would opt to bat first.
Gujarat Titans: Abhinav Manohar, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh, Sai Sudarshan, Shubman Gill, Hardik Pandya (Captain), Rahul Tewatia, Vijay Shankar, Matthew Wade, Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Wriddhiman Saha, Alzarri Joseph, Darshan Nalkande, Dominic Drakes, Jayant Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Shami, Noor Ahmad, Pradeep Sangwan, Rashid Khan, Ravisrinivasan Sai, Varun Aaron, Yash Dayal.
Lucknow Super Giants: KL Rahul (Captain), Manan Vohra, Evin Lewis, Manish Pandey, Quinton De Kock, Ravi Bishnoi, Dushmantha Chameera, Shahbaz Nadeem, Mohsin Khan, Mayank Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Andrew Tye, Marcus Stoinis, Kyle Mayers, Karan Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Ayush Badoni, Deepak Hooda, Krunal Pandya. Jason Holder.