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The two points up for grabs in Match 39 of Pepsi IPL 2014 are more valuable for Sunrisers Hyderabad than their opponents, Kings XI Punjab, who are comfortably placed in the top-half of the table.
SRH have four wins from nine matches and are part of the mid-table muddle that also features the Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore. With each team having just a handful of league fixtures remaining, each victory will take these teams one step closer to a berth in the Playoffs.
Kings XI Punjab are playing their best cricket this season. A new line-up of cricketers, guided by a new coach and an inspirational and ever-smiling captain, has meant the team has got almost all their elements in place and is executing their plans to perfection. Their campaign suffered a minor hiccup the last time they took the field after the Kolkata Knight Riders handed them a nine-wicket defeat in Cuttack. With five wins in five outings in the UAE leg of the competition, KXIP have a definite advantage over several other teams and their focus must now be on not only qualifying for the Playoffs, but finishing in the top two. When
Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 4 pm IST
Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad The Protagonists
Aaron Finch and David Warner, who scored half-centuries in SRH’s previous match, are the team’s top two run-getters this season. The SRH line-up doesn’t have too many other players who are capable of delivering the kind of impact that Finch and Warner and capable of, and hence the onus will be on the two Australians to score the bulk of the runs. On the bowling front, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has picked up wickets almost every time he has taken the field and he will be expected to be at it yet again. Dale Steyn has generally kept the runs down, but he has picked up wickets in only five of his nine outings this season. In these last few crucial encounters, SRH will need many more wickets from the experienced South African.
KXIP will be glad that Virender Sehwag, who was threatening with cameos, fired in their previous match. For most of his career, Sehwag has played his cricket one way – see the ball and hit it. Now in rhythm, he will be expected to not only entertain with cameos, but also pile up the big scores. The two M’s in the KXIP line-up – Glenn Maxwell and David Miller – have led their team’s charge, and they will hold the key yet again. Notes from Previous match
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Mumbai Indians: In their first home fixture of the season, the Sunrisers Hyderabad received a rude shock when they were defeated by the Mumbai Indians. The batsmen had done well to post 157 on the board, but the one area where they could improve is the number of dot-balls they played out; there were as many as 49 deliveries, which were not scored off. Even if the batsmen had scored one run off half those deliveries, MI would have had to chase around 180 rather than 157. On the field, SRH were guilty of not building pressure in the middle overs; they conceded 87 runs – 56 through boundaries – in the nine-over period.
Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders: Virender Sehwag had set up a great platform with a blistering innings of 72, and KXIP needed one player to play a cameo at the end. But post the opener’s dismissal in the 15th over with the score reading 112, KXIP only added a further 37 runs from 5.3 overs. When it was their turn to defend the runs, the bowlers gave away too many runs – especially through boundaries – early on; in the first six overs, KKR scored 55 runs, 42 of them through boundaries. That meant the scoreboard was ticking quickly and KKR never really felt the pressure of the run-chase.
Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab have so far clashed on three occasions previously – twice in 2013 and once earlier this season. While SRH blanked KXIP on both occasions in 2013, KXIP got the better of SRH in Sharjah in the first week of Pepsi IPL 2014.
No team has scored more runs through boundaries this season than Kings XI Punjab. 60.61 percent of their 1597 runs this season have been scored through boundaries (152 fours and 60 sixes).
Sunrisers Hyderabad have hit the fewest boundaries this season. In their nine matches so far, their batsmen have only found the fence 129 times (93 fours and 36 sixes).
Sunrisers Hyderabad will remain at home after this fixture and host the Kolkata Knight Riders next on May 18. Kings XI Punjab, meanwhile, head to the national capital to take on the Delhi Daredevils on May 19.
Both Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad are coming off losses in their previous games. While it was not the best of homecomings for the Sunrisers, who were handed a seven-wicket defeat at the hands of the Mumbai Indians on Monday, their opponents for the next match too suffered a loss at home against the Kolkata Knight Riders. But despite SRH’s recent loss, KXIP captain George Bailey, is not going to take them lightly. “I think the Sunrisers have a very strong side. I do not think they have an obvious weakness. They have a strong batting line-up and have one of the best bowling line-ups in the tournament. It is going to be a tough contest against them,” Bailey said.
When asked if his side’s loss in the previous game was a wakeup call, Bailey said, “I guess anytime you lose, it is a good refresher that any team can beat any team. It is a good reminder that no matter how well you are playing or how well you think you are playing, on any given day, you need to turn up and play your best.”
Their last loss has also given rise to a few concerns. “In the last game, we lost too many wickets in the middle and when we tried to launch at the end, we were five or six down when we would rather be two or three down. That made it harder to attack their best bowlers. To be honest, I do not think we bowled too badly; their batsmen played very well. I don’t think we have to do anything too much different, but we are always working and trying to get better.”
One man who is certainly getting better with each game is Virender Sehwag. The opener smashed his way to a 50-ball 72 in the previous match and looked in great touch. Sehwag’s return to form is, obviously, a good sign for KXIP and a worry for their opponents. “Sehwag has been in really good touch for most of the tournament; he has got a lot of starts and I know he has wanted to go and get that big score. He was outstanding the other day and it is great for us and great for the team to see the confidence that he gives us when he is batting that way. And I know it must be terrifying for the bowlers of the opposition when he is in good touch,” Bailey said.
It would be the second consecutive day-game for KXIP when they face SRH at home. Playing two back-to-back day-games will tough, according to the Bailey. “It is challenging. You have to try and be smart, have a short warm-up, try and get as much sleep as you can the night before. But it is certainly challenging playing afternoon games. I don’t know if every team feels that way, but we are playing a couple of them at the moment, and it is hard work.”
Bailey also addressed the fact that KXIP’s two Ms – Glenn Maxwell and David Miller – did not have the best of times in their previous games. “We feel the more deliveries we make Glenn Maxwell and David Miller play, the more time they can take to build their innings, which is the best chance for us to get a big score. Some teams like to keep their big hitters for the finish and that works as well at times. You need to be flexible, and if you are chasing a big score, you just need to have your big hitters out there. But there are times when you might want to hold them back. It is certainly working for us when we try to give Maxwell and Miller as much time as we can in the middle.”