Underdogs battle for right to challenge favourites
By Arun Gopalakrishnan
Mumbai 21 May 2013
The second of the Pepsi IPL 2013 Playoff matches – the Eliminator – will feature the Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad. While the Rajasthan Royals finished the regular season third in the standings, Sunrisers Hyderabad clinched their final league match of the season to nudge ahead of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and finish fourth in the table. Both teams have been invincible – or close to invincible – while playing at home. Rahul Dravid’s Rajasthan Royals won all eight of their home games and managed two more wins on the road, while Sunrisers Hyderabad won seven of their eight home matches and won three more on the road. Sunrisers Hyderabad will definitely be the more of the confident teams heading into this contest. They defeated the Royals in emphatic fashion at Hyderabad recently and followed it up with a flourish in their match against the Kolkata Knight Riders in their last league match.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013, 8 p.m
Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
The one player in both teams who can run away with the game single-handedly is Rajasthan Royals’ Shane Watson. Watson is not only about runs and overs; his inclusion in the RR XI gives the team the flexibility of using him in a variety of batting positions and an experienced head to tide through difficult situations.
The Australian has already demolished SRH once this season (at Jaipur when he scored a breezy 98 not out to power RR to a convincing win) and will be expecting a similar show yet again. Either, Rahul Dravid or Ajinkya Rahane will be expected to bat through the innings.
On the bowling front, RR will need James Faulkner to do the job he has done for them right through the season. In the two matches against Sunrisers Hyderabad in particular, Faulkner has destructed the SRH batting line-up all-by-himself, picking up a five-wicket haul in both matches. RR fans will be hopeful of a similar performance.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are in the Playoffs mostly because their bowlers have won them matches. While Dale Steyn, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra and Karan Sharma will be expected to do the same again, there will also be pressure on the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White to get amongst the runs.
Dhawan has played entertaining knocks, but given how much rides on this match he will be expected to play a big innings. Skipper White has not contributed too much in the last couple of games, and given that he is the most experienced batsman in the team, he will be expected to contribute with a big score.
The Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad have met twice previously, and on both occasions the hosts held their own. In the first meeting at Jaipur, powered by Shane Watson’s unbeaten 98, Rajasthan Royals chased down the target of 145 with 13 balls to spare. In the second meeting, hosts Sunrisers Hyderabad posted a modest 136 on the board and successfully defended it, restricting the visitors to 113 for 9 in their 20 overs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have posted the fewest 50-run partnerships this season - 8 Sunrisers Hyderabad have posted the fewest 50s of all the teams this season - 7 Rajasthan Royals have conceded the most wides this season – 87. They’ve bowled a total of 71 wide deliveries in their 16 matches so far. Off the 9 times Rajasthan Royals have batted first this season, they have gone on to win seven matches. On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad have won six of their eight run-chases.
The winner of this clash will travel to Kolkata to take on the loser of Qualifier 1 on May 24, while the losers will pack their bags and head back home hopeful of going the distance next season.