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The Lions roar this IPL, with the Challengers not far behind

For probably the first time since its inception, the Indian Premier League seems more like other traditional leagues across sports. A few games into the season and we are already seeing disparities between the sides. Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore after initial performances seem favourites. Rising Pune Supergiants and Kolkata Knight Riders can too win the tournament, defending champions Mumbai Indians seem to have regressed, while Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils are fighting to avoid the wooden spoon.

The newest franchise in the IPL, the Gujarat Lions have taken the greatest Twenty20 league in the world by storm. They’re top of the table, with three wins out of three, and are poised to reach the semi-finals with consummate ease.

Aaron Finch, currently the world’s best T20 batsman has been instrumental in the Lions’ fortunes so far. He’s picked up the Man of the Match award in each of the first three games, having scored a half century in every one. With the batting prowess of Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina, Gujarat are definite favourites to go all the way.

At the onset it seemed as if Gujarat’s bowling may be their Achilles heel. But with reliable performers such as James Faulkner, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhawal Kulkarni and the two Praveen’s – Kumar and Tambe – in the ranks, they seemingly have nothing to fear. After watching them play in the first three games, it’s unfortunate that the Lions may only be in the IPL for two years.

If Gujarat seem to be a very compact side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore are top-heavy. But what a top order it is! The law of averages suggests that one of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Shane Watson will perform in every game, and each of them are match-winners in their own right. Bangalore will set unsurmountable targets to oppositions or chase any score they need to for victory

Gujarat will pave their path into the final; Bangalore will bat their way there.

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