A lot seems to be common between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Aggressive captains, captivating bowlers, and a very similar story of their road to play offs this season.
Both teams seemed to ride a smooth road early on, but suddenly lost the plot towards the end. Both the teams come into the play offs with eight wins from fourteen games, but Hyderabad stand ahead of Kolkata by a solitary point as a result of a tie with RCB, courtesy Bad weather.
Early on KKR looked like a team to beat; chasing down high totals in the power plays, destroying one of the strongest batting line ups for a mere 49 and surprising teams with trump card Narine. However they slipped and how! the team themselves could be held responsible for plotting their downfall. They looked like they were set for a top two finish however a late struggle meant they will now have to play three knockouts on the trot to win their third title.
Hyderabad holds the strongest of bowling line up of the top four. While towards the end it was obvious that they wouldn’t grab a seat in the top two, they pretty much had to fight their way into the top four. They have been a team that has been able to adapt fairly well to changing conditions and with David Warner who is in red hot form and owns the Orange cap, along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar who once again has been sensational and holds the purple cap, they seem to be a stronger side on paper.
The Bengaluru pitch which has been sluggish this season nullifies the upper hand and places both teams on a level playing field. The Bengaluru wicket has been a miser one disallowing any of the teams in the six matches played, to score beyond 161. Expect both the teams to back their slower bowlers. If the nature of the Bengaluru pitch persists the captain winning the toss will possible opt to bat first, as chasing gets difficult here and add onto it the pressure of a must win game. and Don’t be surprised if it ends up being a low scoring tensed chase.
Kolkata Knight Riders
- Though the Narine experiment has been pretty successful, surprising the oppositions and Narine fleeing away with some superb cameos. The West Indian has struggled against the short-pitch deliveries, being dismissed four times. Narine at the top also somehow reduces the roles of Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey who have been in good touch this season, the KKR management may be tempted to revert to the old Gambhir-Lynn combo.
- While Uthappa and Pandey have been in good touch, captain Gambhir who stands at the third spot in the list of top run getters has blown cold in the recent encounters.
- If KKR are to win the top 4 need to score big and capitalise the powerplay which has been their strength
- Yadav-Yadav combo has worked well for the Knight Riders both Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav have been in wickets. Kuldeep would be a key to nullify the Warner threat.
- With Nathan Coulter-Nile offering more variety than Colin de Grandhomme, and considering the nature of the pitch there might be a swap there.
- Shikhar Dhawan has hit top form and has amassed 468 runs so far. Warner too is in red hot form. As numbers have it the openers have been major contributors for the SRH and they need to fire if SRH aim to meet Mumbai next. Expect some fireworks from Warner.
- While SRH has been a wonderful bowling unit. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar spearheading the clan, Rashid has been the find of this season, he can be quite deceptive and with Siraj’s match winning performance in the last match, the bowling looks set.
- If Narine and Lynn open the batting for KKR going with a spin-pace option should possibly be on Warner’s mind. While Narine struggles against the short ball, Lynn’s flow can be narrowed down with spin.
- With Yuvraj doubtful for an all important encounter, SRH might face a middle order crisis. Though Vijay Shankar has built a strong case for himself, there can still be uncertainty, with the magnitude of pressure this game brings. If Yuvi is fit, a lot would be expected of him.
- Moises Henriques is a key player in the SRH line up both with the bat and ball, If Yuvi misses out the onus will be on Moises to stabilise the middle order, and a few economical overs from the southpaw might seal the game. He’s one to watch out for.
All in all, we expect it to be a cracker of a game!