Hyderabad: Sunrisers Hyderabad go into a crucial mid-table clash against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday night desperate to reverse the downward trend that has dogged them of late at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium here. Straight defeats at home — to Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab — in the last two games have left quite a bit of gloom in the Sunrisers camp. The Punjab punch, delivered four days ago, still hurts. That the tournament’s best bowling attack could not defend a 200-plus score has sowed seeds of doubt and has dented their confidence a great deal.
Bowling spearheads Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Amit Mishra will have to pull their socks up if they are to contain the Knights, who are riding on new-found confidence after their wins against Mumbai and Punjab, the teams that slammed the Sunrisers last week. Home captain Shikhar Dhawan hopes his tottering boys will find their feet and walk right into the bigger game of playoff berths when they take the field on Sunday. He will need to quickly shake off dust though, and get going from the start contrary to the last game where he found his rhythm only after much prodding and pushing.
With Aaron Finch, David Warner, Naman Ojha going great guns, Shikhar does not have to look far for runs but it’s the bowling department that he’d be concerned about. The hosts will also be tempted to make changes to the side that suffered successive setbacks. It remains to be seen if Moises Henriques retains his place in the side after scoring a golden duck and conceding 36 runs in the two overs he bowled against Punjab.
By contrast, the Kolkata club has been partying of late. And this being the last away game before they hit the home stretch to play three matches which conclude their league campaign at the Eden Gardens has put springs in the steps of the men in purple. Kolkata captain Gautam Gambhir would look for bigger performances from Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan in the batting line-up. He may well promote Ryan Ten Doeschate up the order to boost the KKR run tally.
Morne Morkel and Sunil Narine will have to carry the bowling burden as usual, supported by sharp spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Piyush Chawla, who can turn the game on their day. With just two points separating the Kolkata Knights and Sunrisers, it should be a fierce fight for the fourth spot between teams that are facing each other for the first time in the tournament....