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IPL 2017 GL vs KKR: Gujarat Lions today's probable playing XI against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Match 23

Sportskeeda's predicted XI for the Gujarat Lions to feature against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.

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Gujarat Lions desperately need a victory in this game

Languishing at the bottom of the points table, the Gujarat Lions need all the fortune that they could possibly garner if they are to compete against the second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders, who have been on a three-match winning streak. The Lions would have fresh memories of their first encounter against the Knight Riders, wherein Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir swept them to a 10-wicket loss.

That Lynn is no more a part of the KKR squad should come as a relief for the Lions, but the way the Kolkata-based team has recovered from the loss of their star batsman must convey a clear message that they are not a one-man army. Therefore, the Lions need to be at the top of their game, if they are to challenge the two-time IPL champions.

Brendon McCullum's blitzkrieg in the last game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore must have given some hopes to his side about one of their batsmen finally finding form at the top of the order. However, that he is the only man who's found some form for them at the top should be troublesome.

In the last match, Ishan Kishan played a good cameo for the Gujarat-based franchise, but he was sent in lower down the order, instead of the top order where he is best suited to play. Here's the predicted XI for the Lions for tonight's game.

Top order

Aaron Finch has been constantly slotted at No. 4 by the Lions and the time might be right to escalate him to the top of the order. Given his proven credentials as a successful opening batsman for Australia, the Lions may be well off with the right-hander opening the batting for them, and playing freely at the top of the order. Besides, Dwayne Smith, who had opened in the last game, hasn't lived up to the expectations that the team has had of him and has been poor with the ball as well.

Brendon McCullum played a flashy innings against RCB in the Lions’ last game and as long as he was at the crease, the Lions were in contention of chasing the 200+ target set by their opponents. The form that the former New Zealand captain gained in the last game would help the Lions in their future endeavours as well. A quick-fire innings at the top of the order should set them in good stead.

Suresh Raina, the captain, is the second highest run-getter in the history of the IPL, but unlike all of the previous seasons of the league, hasn't looked to be at his imperious best. While his stats do look promising – he has scored 159 runs from 5 games at an average of 53 – the left-handed batsman hasn't been able to finish off the games against teams in pressure situations, something that he looks to be tailor-made for. The captain needs to step up big time.

Middle order

Ishan Kishan has been underutilized this season. The Lions have failed to slot him at the top of the order, and while that is understandable because there have been too many top order batsmen in the squad, sending the 18-year-old down at No. 6 doesn't make much sense. Like it was seen in the last game against the RCB, Kishan is more than capable of playing a quick knock and he must be utilized at the top of the order.

Dwayne Bravo had said that he has attained match fitness but wouldn't risk playing until he's fully fit. He had also reckoned that he might be back on the field after a game or a couple of games. Assuming that this comment, that was made on Tuesday, holds true, we might see the "champion” all-rounder taking the field tonight against the Knight Riders. If that happens, not only will it be a big boost for the Lions, who desperately need a win, but it will also be a much-needed comeback for Bravo, who hasn't played any form of competitive cricket since December 2016.

Dinesh Karthik is another big-hitting option lower down the order who can play both a consolidating innings as well as a quick-fire cameo. The experience that the wicketkeeper-batsman brings with him could be and has been of massive help to the Lions and the team would look up to him in case there is a crisis due to the fall of wickets early in the innings.

Lower middle order

Ravindra Jadeja, since his comeback, hasn't quite looked to be the all-rounder who was so successful for India in the recently-concluded Test season. He has picked up a solitary wicket in the three matches that he has played and has garnered just 23 runs. However, for the all-rounder that he is, and for all the success that he's had in the IPL, a sample size of three games is too small to judge him. The Lions would only hope that he fires on all cylinders tonight.

Andrew Tye is IPL's newest hat-trick man and has been quite a sensation, especially with the knuckleball of his that has been bamboozling the batsmen. His efficiency has been top-notch this season and has been the most efficient bowler for the Lions, picking up 7 wickets from 5 matches. From making his IPL debut five games ago, Tye has become one of the vital cogs in the Lions' line-up. 

Bowlers

Basil Thampi has become the new yorker-man for the Lions, after Praveen Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni, who had bowled the toe-crushers quite efficiently in the last season, failed to do so with consistency this season. While he doesn't have the numbers to show for his performances, the manner in which he has nailed in the full-length deliveries at the death has been exemplary. A little bit of luck going his way, and you'd see this young man from Kerala flourishing in the IPL.

Shadab Jakati once used to be a regular member for the now-suspended Chennai Super Kings franchise. However, since being the part of his new team, he hasn't been given many opportunities and hasn't made the best of whatever has been doled out to him. However, the experience that he brings with him could be of some use to the Lions, especially with Shivil Kaushik going for plenty this season.

Nathu Singh hasn't made his IPL debut yet, but there cannot be a better opportunity for him to do so. There won't be much pressure on him, as Gujarat would look to play with a free mind and may give Nathu the license to express himself. The pace that he brings with himself could be a deadly weapon, especially against the top-order batsmen.

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