Out of the play-offs race, bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to dent Kolkata Knight Riders’ chances of making it to the knockout stage when they face off in an IPL game here on Sunday.
With nine defeats from 11 matches, SRH is languishing at the bottom, while KKR still has hopes of qualifying for the knockout stage as they are at fourth place with 10 points from 12 matches.
SRH have won just one match out of the four that they have played since the resumption of the IPL in the UAE.
While SRH had returned to winning ways after five losses on the trot with a convincing victory over Rajasthan Royals, they lost their last game by six wickets at Sharjah, allowing Chennai Super Kings to qualify for the play-offs.
The Sunrisers had dropped their only IPL-winning (2016) skipper David Warner after axing him from captaincy but that didn’t change the fate of the team as Kane Williamson has not been able to revive the fortunes of the Orange Army.
For SRH, batting remains their weakest link, especially in the absence of Jonny Bairstow.
While English opener Jason Roy sizzled on his debut with a quickfire 60 and Williamson too scored a 51 in their successful chase of 165 against RR, both came a cropper against CSK in their last game.
Wriddhiman Shah held the innings together with a 46-ball 44 but SRH could not accelerate in the death overs and only managed 37 runs in the last five overs against CSK.
Their India players such as Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, and Abdul Samsad will have to step up if SRH are to salvage some pride and end the season on a positive note.
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan remains SRH’s biggest weapon against any opposition, but he didn’t have enough runs to play with most times.
For KKR, the UAE leg of the IPL has been a topsy-turvy affair as they have won three games while losing two so far.
The two-time former champions have impressed with their performance in the second half, and even their two defeats were narrow, where they lost in the last over.
Venkatesh Iyer has been the star performer with the bat in the second leg for KKR, while Rahul Tripathi has scored the maximum runs for the team this season.
The decision to move Nitish Rana up the order has also paid dividends but Shubman Gill has not been able to capitalise on the starts.
In bowling, Varun Chakravarthy has been their go-to man as he picked up six wickets in the second leg, while Sunil Narine too has been among the wickets
But they have concerns in the pace department with Andre Russell and Lockie Ferguson missing games following injuries, forcing skipper Eoin Morgan to make changes.
Even the KKR captain needs to get some runs under his belt.
Tim Southee and Shivam Mavi are the new pace bowling pair for KKR and they will need to step up.
Pacer Prasidh Krishna did well to snap four wickets in the matches that he had played, before being dropped for conceding 22 runs in the 19th over, against CSK.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (captain), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathy, Shubman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Dube, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russel, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Tim Seifert
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (captain), David Warner, Manish Pandey, Sherfane Rutherford, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Rashid Khan, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed, Urman Malik, Basil Thampi, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Abdul Samad, J Suchith, Jason Holder, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Jason Roy. Match starts at 7:30 PM IST.