Arun Gopalakrishnan in Hyderabad 24 May 2014 - 01:34pm IST
Preview: Match 54 – KKR v SRH
Sunrisers in a must-win situation at Eden Gardens
Given how things stand in Pepsi IPL 2014, Match 54 – which features the Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad – promises to be a huge contest.
KKR have 16 points from 13 matches and are already through to the Playoffs. But they have a huge motivation to go ahead and win this match; two points from this match, and a convincing win, will propel them to the top two in the standings, which will give them a second dash at qualifying for the Final.
For Sunrisers Hyderabad, the road ahead is pretty straightforward – win to stay in the race to the Playoffs. SRH are coming on the back of two fantastic victories; they successfully chased down 161 against Royal Challengers Bangalore and followed it up by overhauling the Chennai Super Kings by scoring 189 in a run-chase.
Saturday, May 24, 2014, 8 pm IST
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Numbers illustrate the key to Kolkata Knight Riders’ journey so far this season. Robin Uthappa, with 572 runs, has scored more than twice the runs scored by the team’s second-highest run-getter (Manish Pandey - 284 runs). Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir have forged very good partnerships at the top of the innings and have generally laid a solid foundation. On the bowling front, one doesn’t have to look beyond Sunil Narine, who has only conceded runs at a six-an-over in the 13 matches this season. The mystery spinner from Trinidad has picked up 20 wickets – nine more than the team’s second-highest wicket-taker.
The cornerstone of SRH’s wins in the last two overs has been the platform built by the openers. Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner (who was promoted to open the innings after consistently scoring runs in the middle order) been involved in century stands in each of the last two matches and have individually scored half-centuries. They will be expected to come good yet again so the middle-order strikers, like Naman Ojha, Aaron Finch and Darren Sammy, have the freedom to play their shots from the word go. On the bowling front, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has had a dream IPL; the 24-year-old has rediscovered the ability to swing the ball, and that has made him a very dangerous bowler. Dale Steyn, who has had a mixed season, another player who will need to come good; the South African has gone wicket-less in seven of his 13 appearances, and there is no better time to stamp his presence than now.
Notes from previous match
Kolkata Knight Riders v Royal Challengers Bangalore: KKR’s Robin Uthappa gave an important insight into his success in recent times. He indicated that after picking up boundaries, he made a conscious attempt to pick up singles the following delivery. There were 27 boundaries in the KKR innings, which accounted for 122 runs. Those were interspersed with plenty of singles – 44 in all – which meant that KKR were giving a good account of the 120 deliveries they faced. On the bowling front, the bowlers did not give away too many boundaries; RCB only realized 84 runs through boundaries in their run-chase.
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Chennai Super Kings: That Sunrisers Hyderabad chased down 186 should not mask areas of concern. Dale Steyn was taken for 24 runs in the 20th over; while there is no disputing that he is the world’s best bowler, that batsmen have started to score off him fairly regularly should be a reason to worry. The fifth bowler’s quota of four overs continues to be a problem area; Irfan Pathan and Darren Sammy, who combined to bowl four overs, conceded 45 runs.
With a 2-1 win-loss record, the Kolkata Knight Riders will believe they have a slight edge over Sunrisers Hyderabad. The teams shared honours by retaining their respective home matches in Pepsi IPL 2013. When these two teams met in Hyderabad last week, the visitors emerged triumphant after they restricted the hosts to 142 and chased down the target in the last over.
Dale Steyn has an economy rate of 7.46 in Pepsi IPL 2014 – his poorest in seven seasons of playing in the league.
Of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s 20 wickets this season, 15 are of batsmen with scores of four or less.
The result of this match, and the rest of the league fixtures, will determine where these two teams end up.