The 38th match of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) will see Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) take on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), with both teams, surprisingly, in the bottom half of the table.
Despite being tied at eight points, SRH sits one place above KKR at fifth thanks to a superior run-rate. Hyderabad also has a game in hand, having played eight games as compared to KKR’s nine.
SRH comes into this game high on confidence, having defeated the defending champions, Chennai Super Kings (CSK) with a convincing performance in their last encounter.
Their bowling, their most powerful weapon during their run to the finals last year came good, restricting a strong CSK batting line-up to a below-par total. In return, the opening pair of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner made quick work of overhauling the target, getting there with 19 balls and six wickets to spare.
On the other side, KKR is in a bit of a downward spiral. Their last win, against Rajasthan Royals, came on April 7. Since then, they have lost twice to CSK, failed to defend 178 against Delhi Capitals and fell just short of chasing down an almost insurmountable 214 against Royal Challengers Bangalore. They desperately need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
As we get into the business end of the tournament, it is surprising to see SRH struggling to break into the top four. The team currently owns the best net run-rate in IPL at 0.549. (In comparison, table toppers CSK is at 0.101 while fourth-placed Kings XI Punjab is at -0.044).
Their openers have given them great starts, with David Warner and Johnny Bairstow having scored a combined 815 runs. Orange Cap holder Warner sits comfortably atop the leading scorer's chart with 450 runs and looks to have shrugged off any rustiness from his year-long ban.
Breaking the partnership early is going to be key for any team hoping to restrict SRH to a low score as it brings out their brittle middle-order. Vijay Shankar is the next most successful SRH batsman after the openers but his 139 runs are more than 200 runs behind Bairstow’s 365.
The team would need more consistency from Shankar, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan in order to ease the pressure on Warner and Bairstow. With Kane Williamson back, they have a strong number three but the management would be looking for more from the rest.
They would be encouraged by the return to form of their strike bowler, Rashid Khan, who, against CSK bowled four overs for 17 runs, taking two wickets, while the rest of the attack were miserly and consistently denied the high scoring Chennai batsmen the freedom to go for the big hits.
Their bowling was the highlight of last season and they would require every trick up their sleeve to contain the big hitters in the KKR side.
Kolkata Knight Riders
How close was the match against RCB? On the ropes at 33/3, one could be forgiven for writing off KKR’s hopes. However, terrific innings under pressure from Nitish Rana and a power hitting masterclass from that man, Andre Russell, made for a very nervous finish.
That 10-run loss will sting, but even more worrying is the fact that KKR has now lost their last four matches and desperately needs to arrest this slump if they are to finish in the top half of the table.
Chris Lynn has gotten some starts and shown some signs of his explosive hitting, but needs to find some consistency and build a partnership with Sunil Narine.
KKR would be looking for more runs from Robin Uthappa and Shubham Gill in case the openers are dismissed cheaply. Rana looks to be back in form but the pressure is now on him and Russell to pick up the scoring rate in the later overs.
Russell himself has hinted at wanting to move up the order, allowing him to get his eye in earlier as opposed to coming in when the team has significantly fallen behind.
Worryingly, for KKR, their bowlers have not been able to contain other teams with Prasidh Krishna and Kuldeep Yadav dangerously out of form. Harry Gurney has proven useful but KKR would need Narine, Yadav and Chawla to weave their magic to restrict SRH to a below-par score.
Head to head:16
KKR: 10SRH: 6
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson (C), Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, and Khaleel Ahmed.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubham Gill, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik (C and wk), Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Harry Gurney and Prasidh Krishna.
(Featured Image: FB/SRH)
About the Author
Vishnu Rao is a freelance writer and a content creator based in Bengaluru. He loves sports with a passion and is currently dreaming of authoring a book on Wrestling