Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad head into their crunch qualifier of the VIVO IPL in contrasting forms. The Sunrisers were comfortably one of the best sides in the league stages, going on a six match unbeaten run, became the first side to qualify into the knockout stages. However, since they sealed their 3rd consecutive entry into the playoffs, their form has dipped, and Kane Williamson’s side enter the do or die clash with 4 straight defeats.
Dinesh Karthik took over the reins of KKR from Gautam Gambhir amidst some apprehension, and despite a topsy-turvy tournament so far, his side will arguably be the more confident of the two. KKR have won their last four games, all must wins, and will be banking on a boisterous Eden Gardens crows to cheer them on.
The loss against Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 will perhaps hurt Kane Williamson team the most after MS Dhoni’s side snatched victory from a certain defeat. The bowling department has undoubtedly been Sunrisers’ strong suit this season, but have had a rough time of it lately.They have averaged 49/2 in the death in the last four defeats. The early loss of Billy Stanlake and absence of their strike bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar for a few games may have cast doubts on their wicket taking ability, however the quartet of Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma, Rashid Khan and Shakib Al Hasan have bowled in tandem as unit to strangle opponents. Kaul and Rashid have taken 37 wickets between them, as the SRH side have defended a total of less than 150 in all three occasions this season.
The batting department has been shouldered by their captain Williamson, who has scored 30% of their runs so far. The next best batsman is Shikhar Dhawan with 437 runs in 14 games. No other player has scored more than 300 runs. The contribution from the middle order is a scope for improvement for SRH. Manish Pandey has scored 3 half centuries in the IPL 2018 so far, however his slow scoring rate has been a cause for concern. With spin friendly conditions at Eden Gardens, Pandey will be hoping to rediscover his strike rate of 114.16 against spin in the previous 2 IPL editions. The Karnataka batsman has seen his SR dip to 83.71 against spin and 123.49 against pace this edition.
KKR, who picked the least number of players in the auction, have reaped the rewards for their faith in youngsters.
The two-time IPL champions have a deep batting line up with even Piyush Chawla capable of wielding the willow. In stark contrast to SRH, 5 batsmen have scored over 300 runs this season for KKR, with Dinesh Karthik topping the charts for them with 490 runs.
Robin Uthappa averaging 23.26 this IPL has been unable to convert decent starts to big scores and with pinch hitter Sunil Narine’s scoring pattern being unpredictable, the onus will fall on the 32-year-old to attack the SRH line up.
In the bowling department, it will be interesting to see whether Karthik will rely on the Nitish Rana experiment to pose questions to the SRH middle order. The limelight may have been on Shivam Mavi for his express pace after impressing in the U19 World Cup, but another talent in Prasidh Krishna has been a steady head for KKR. The 22-year-old has taken 10 wickets in 6 games, including a brilliant 18th over in the first eliminator against RR, where the 22-year-old conceded just 3 runs and dismissed Stuart Binny to ensure their passage into Friday’s eliminator. KKR have relied heavily on spinners with Narine leading the pack, ably supported by Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla as the trio have picked up 44 wickets this season. Sunil Narine uncharacteristically went for nearly 40 runs in his 4 overs against Rajasthan, but his economy of 7.87 in playoffs will make a good reading for KKR fans.
IN IPL 2018:
HEAD TO HEAD: 1-1
KKR vs SRH at Eden Gardens:
KKR:138/8, SRH: 139/5 (SRH won by 5 wickets)
SRH VS KKR at Rajiv Gandhi Intl Stadium:
SRH: 172/9, KKR: 173/5 (KKR won by 5 wickets)