Sunrisers Hyderabad Recent Form
It’s not much fun for anyone when a team is ruled out of contention early on. Not for the fans of the team, the competition as a whole or the players from that very team.
With two losses from their first two, it looked like Hyderabad could be heading that way, but they hit back.
At the weekend they secured a good win over a struggling CSK and then went one better on Monday, chasing a below-par total by Gujarat to get home relatively comfortably, despite a late wobble after skipper Kane Williamson got out when well set.
So two from four isn’t bad at all and they’re right back in it.
As has been the case in previous seasons, how well they go may just depend a lot on Williamson.
If he starts the innings slowly but then accelerates at the end they’ll be in the game every time.
But they can be guilty of losing their head with too many rash shots or can go the other way and get bogged down if he’s not at the crease.
On the plus side, Nicholas Pooran has found some form with two good kocks and Abhishek Sharma hit 75 and 42 in his last two innings at the top of the order to get them going in those two wins.
A hand injury sustained while fielding means Washington Sundar is likely to miss the next two matches, including this one, of course.
Sundar is equally one of the most understated and underrated IPL players around. But he’s a vital cog for them with accurate bowling, good fielding and the occasional match-winning cameo with the bat.
So he’s a big, big loss.
The least disruptive move is to bring in one of Jagadeesha Suchith or Sachank Singh who are both Indian and can bowl spin, just like Sundar. Hope for the best and then welcome Sundar back.
The other option is to sacrifice an overseas batsman like Aiden Markram and bring in Sean Abbott as a bowler. It will be interesting to see which way they go.
Player to Watch: Kane Williamson
It’s testament to just how good Williamson is as a batsman that he’s become a super T20 player despite having few of the characteristics associated with one.
He’s not particularly powerful, doesn’t play too many cute shots and isn’t a natural risk-taker.
But he knows his game, gets better and scores faster as the innings progresses and can play the big shots well when under pressure, if needed.
That was the story of his man-of-the-match knock against Gujarat on Monday, starting painfully slowly before catching up.
His IPL record is actually better than you might think and you’ll see far worse IPL career strike rates than his 128.
It’s 3.0 with Betway he top scores again and 2.1 that he hits a six.
SRH’s Likely XI
Williamson, Sharma, Tripathi, Pooran, Markram, Singh, Jansen, Suchith, Kumar, Malik, Natarajan.
Kolkata Knight Riders Recent Form
KKR are three from five, a strong start for a side who look good this year.
But they lost to Delhi last time out in a match where they were guilty of some poor death bowling, in the end conceding 215.
It exposes a possible area of weakness because none of Andre Russell, Pat Cummins or Umesh Yadav are death bowlers by nature.
On the day it was too many to chase but most of their batsmen are in decent form while Sunil Narine and Yadav have been particularly good with the ball.
They look one of the best-balanced sides this year.
They’ll be pretty happy about the fact that Russell has already got through five games unscathed because that’s not always the case. Normally he picks up an injury here or there and either sits out games or plays when only half-fit.
They’re unlikely to make changes here unless they’ve lost patience with Venkatesh Iyer at the top of the order. He scored an important 50 not out against Mumbai but that’s the only decent score he’s got so far.
If they wish, they can play him in the middle-order and open with Aussie Aaron Finch.
But to do that they’d have to drop Englishman Sam Billings for Indian keeper Sheldon Jackson.
So they’re likely to play the same side again.
Player to Watch: Venkatesh Iyer
Iyer isn’t the only player suffering a sort of case of second-season syndrome.
Ruturaj Gaikwad at CSK is having a poor campaign after being Orange Cap winner last year in what was his first full season.
Iyer was brilliant in the second half of last season when promoted to open and was a big factor in their run to the final but has struggled this time round.
But they should show faith in him. You don’t become a bad player overnight and sooner or later he should get going.
The problem KKR have is that though he can also play as a middle-order batsman and has done for India, they have plenty of those and not many openers, so prefer him at the top of the order.
They also shouldn’t forget he can bowl. He’s had just two overs so far but they should remember his off-spin is there as an option.
Kolkata’s Likely XI
V Iyer, Rahane, S Iyer, Rana, Billings, Russell, Narine, Cummins, Yadav, Salam, Chakravarthy.
Venue & conditions
We’re at Brabourne for this one. This is where Delhi set KKR 215, which was more than enough to win.
It’s also where Gujarat chased 190 against Punjab thanks to two sixes off the last two balls and where Punjab hit 180 against CSK.
So the par score looks about 190 if you want to bet on the first innings runs market and unlike other venues, there doesn’t seem to be a bias towards chasing sides.
So if the team you backed hits around 180 or so, they’re still very much in the game.
But it’s worth remembering that this is also where Lucknow chased 211 against CSK earlier on in the tournament.
In other words, it’s a wicket that can throw up some unexpected results.