One of Sunrisers Hyderabad or Kolkata Knight Riders will walk away with two crucial points at the end of Match 38 of VIVO IPL 2019.
Both teams have eight points and are part of the mid-table muddle; just one win separates the teams placed third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have a game in hand compared to all the other teams. In their previous match, they arrested their three-match losing streak by defeating the Chennai Super Kings; that victory against the table-toppers must give the SRH players plenty of confidence heading into the business end of the league stage. There continue to be concerns regarding their middle order, but if Jonny Bairstow and David Warner can continue to win matches on their own, then the middle order might not have too much to do.
The Kolkata Knight Riders were table-toppers a week into April, but two weeks later they have slipped to number six in the eight-team table. KKR have lost their last four matches; it is the first time since 2014 that the Knight Riders have been beaten in four consecutive matches. In their most-recent outing, they were beaten in their backyard by bottom-dwellers Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The Knight Riders too have been carried by one individual; Andre Russell has been sensational with the bat. Even in the previous match against RCB, he nearly achieved the impossible; after walking out to bat when his team needed 135 from 48 balls, Russell tore apart the RCB bowling attack, hit nine sixes and two fours in his 25-ball 65 and carried his team to within two strokes of a win.
The Sunrisers have a full contingent to pick from; expect them to make the odd strategic change to their XI. Andre Russell struggled with his forearm in the previous match; one isn’t sure if it was cramps that caused him discomfort or if he had injured himself. If he cannot make the XI, KKR might consider bringing in Carlos Brathwaite.
21 April 2019, 4pm IST
Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
Previous Match XIs:
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Robbie Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Andre Russell, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Harry Gurney, Prasidh Krishna.
David Warner has a love affair with the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium; the left-hander has now made scores of 69, 100*, 15, 51 & 50 in his last five visits to the venue. He also loves playing against the Knight Riders too; two of his top three scores in the IPL are against them.
Jonny Bairstow is quite capable of delivering the same impact as Warner or many of the modern-day aggressive batsmen do – except he doesn’t actually instil fear in the bowler with his personality or aggressive body language. In his last 18 T20 matches, Bairstow averages 46 and scores his runs at a strike-rate of 151.
Andre Russell, if he plays, poses the biggest threat to the SRH bowlers; the Jamaican has already struck 39 sixes this season, and his 377 runs have been scored off just 171 balls.
Among the bowlers, it will be interesting to see if Kuldeep Yadav is able to bounce back from the pounding he received in the previous match; he conceded 59 runs – the most he has ever conceded in a T20 match.
For SRH, Rashid Khan’s four overs will be crucial as always; the leg-spinner might not have the rewards to show for his good bowling, but his economy rate of 5.59 clearly illustrates that batsmen have struggled to score off him. Rashid – with a tally of 96 wickets, was the highest wicket-taker in T20s in 2018, and he has the opportunity to get to the top of the list for 2019 too.
Head to Head in Indian Premier League
Overall: Matches – 16, Sunrisers Hyderabad – 6, Kolkata Knight Riders – 10.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s opening partnerships this season read: 118, 110, 185, 64, 33, 7, 72 & 66.
The team winning the toss has lost each of the last ten IPL matches played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.