Although it is understandable that a newly formed franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL) should be regarded as underdogs, as there are questions about the balance of the side, its ability to gel into a team unit, and other number of reasons.
However, purely based on the talent available to the side, it was perhaps slightly premature for many pundits to dismiss the hopes of the Gujarat Lions for a successful 2016 IPL campaign, their first in the tournament.
The side that was cobbled together from the December player draft and then the auction in February, may be overly dependent on overseas stars, but that won’t worry the cricketing public of Rajkot, a cricketing outpost that has seen just six international matches in the last decade.
Their side, which have quickly become local heroes, take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot with a record of played three won three. The only team that remains unbeaten in this season’s competition.
With the risers only having opened their account on Sunday, with a win against the faltering reigning Champions, the Mumbai Indians, after two defeats to begin the 2016 season, the Lions will be expecting and will be expected by their adoring public, to make it four back to back wins.
Key to the Lions early season results, has been the batting of Australian Aaron Finch at the top of the order. Half centuries in each match to date has compensated for the inconsistent starts to the tournament for stars such as Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina.
The Sunrisers may point to the fact that they had to contend with the immensely powerful batting line ups of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders in their first two fixtures, both which were lost. But there already looks like an over reliance of David Warner at the top of the order to provide the bulk of the runs.