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With two back-to-back losses at home, the Sunrisers Hyderabad would be looking to turn the fortunes in their favour when they meet the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday. Sunrisers coach Tom Moody highlighted the importance of the game as he said, “Both teams know what is at stake. From our point of view, it is exciting to have the opportunity to still be in the contest, even though we feel that we have let two opportunities slip in the last two games. The destiny is in our own hands.”
The Sunrisers are believed to have one of the best bowling attacks in the competition, but it is this very bowling attack that failed to defend a score of 200-plus in their previous game, against the Kings XI Punjab. Their ace bowler, Dale Steyn, has not been as economical as expected. But Moody backed his ace pacer to come good soon. “Dale had a disappointing outing in the last game and so did every other person who grabbed the ball. He cannot carry the attack every single time in the middle. I think if there are a couple of games that go his way, then he will end up being the Man of the Match. I am not concerned about his form. We are aware that he is a world-class fast bowler and he will step up in the crunch games.”
On the batting front, their captain, Shikhar Dhawan, has not had a prolific season thus far. Shikhar has got starts, including a couple of 30s and 40s, but has failed to go on and get a big score. Moody though believes Dhawan has been unlucky. “Shikhar played well in the last game and this is the third time in the tournament that he has got out at short fine-leg, which is probably considered an unlucky dismissal. He was unlucky in the last match as his rhythm was flowing beautifully and his timing was there. He is the one who really set the momentum for us last game.”
There has also been much talk about Parvez Rasool’s inclusion in the playing XI for the Sunrisers. The off-spinner is yet to get a game this IPL, but Moody had his own reasons behind Rasool’s exclusion as he said, “Parvez has been sick for the last four days. He has not been considered for selection because he has been unwell with fever. He had a light session today, but he is probably a day or so away from being considered for selection. If we do consider playing him, it would mean we would be playing with three specialist spinners, and we have to have the right conditions to consider that combination. That may well be the last game in Kolkata. At the moment, we are looking at the right combination against the Knight Riders. Their team is structured in a certain way, but we need to consider all options.”
The Knight Riders are back on track in their Pepsi IPL 2014 campaign with three back-to-back wins. One of the biggest positives for the Knight Riders has been Robin Uthappa, who has come out all guns blazing after his promotion to the top of the batting order. “He is looked very good,” KKR coach Trevor Bayliss said. “He plays in a conventional manner; he plays proper cricket shots. He has worked really hard. He is very hard to contain once he gets his eye in and once he gets going.”
Staying on the batting front, Bayliss was also glad that skipper Gautam Gambhir had managed to get some vital runs under his belt. “It’s pleasing to see the captain score some runs. He was a bit disappointing earlier in the tournament. But he has batted very well in the last four to five games. Together (with Uthappa) they have put on some really good partnerships in the last four matches.
But a point of concern for the Knight Riders has been Yusuf Pathan’s form. The hard-hitting batsman has got just 79 runs in his nine outings so far at an average of just under 16. Pathan scored an unbeaten 20 – including the winning boundary – in the previous game against the Mumbai Indians, which should keep him in good stead according to Bayliss. “He is bit down on confidence like anyone who doesn’t score runs or take wickets. We know what a dangerous player he can be. He got 20 in the last game and struck the ball quite nicely. That gives him confidence, and he can go on from there.”
The Knight Riders face the Sunrisers Hyderabad who are coming off two back-to-back defeats in their home ground. But with league standings changing frequently, KKR would look to get those vital two points on the board with an all-important win. “It is obviously a very important game with both teams vying for probably the fourth spot. The Sunrisers have got a good team. They have got a strong batting line-up and very good bowlers. We have to play very well to beat them. Having said that, even they have to play some good cricket to beat us. For the tournament and the fans, hopefully it will be a good game.
When asked if KKR had any special plans to restrict SRH, who had amassed more than 200 in their previous game, Bayliss said, “We will sit down and have a look at that tomorrow. I am sure our bowlers have a few thoughts already. We have a reasonably good bowling attack that has bowled well this tournament. It should be a good contest between bat and ball tomorrow.”