Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on the strong Kolkata Knight Riders in the first afternoon match of this IPL season at Hyderabad on Saturday. Hyderabad had a poor start to the tournament as their bowlers mere mauled by a strong RCB batting line up starring the likes of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson. Their batsmen responded well, but there was way too much to be done. On the other hand, Kolkata Knight Riders lost to Mumbai Indians, as the latter’s batting line up was too strong for Kolkata.
Hyderabad will be in a dilemma with regards to their bowling which suffered at the hands of the Bangalore batsmen. Ashish Nehra, their most experienced hand, walked out injured, and is unlikely to be available for a few games. Even among the others, it was only Mustafizur Rahman who made an impression while the rest struggled miserably. Bhuvneshwar Kumar went for 55 in his four, Karn Sharma for 57, and Moises Henriques for 41. It remains to be seen whether Hyderabad make some changes to the squad, or show confidence in their battered bowlers.
Batting is also a worry for Hyderabad. Just like last season, the syndrome continued as it was only David Warner who stood up to the opposition with a blistering innings. Eoin Morgan, Ashish Reddy and Karn all got runs towards the end, but it came a bit too late. What Sunrisers ideally need is runs from the top and middle order, from the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Naman Ojha. Hyderabad should also try fitting Kane Williamson into the scheme of things.
Kolkata began the IPL on a grand note by dismantling Delhi Daredevils before suffering a setback against Mumbai Indians. But, to be fair to KKR, Mumbai’s batting was just too strong for them on the day. They will like to concentrate on getting things back on track against Hyderabad, against whom they will be favourites. The tough decision for them would obviously be how to bring in Sunil Narine, and whether they should continue with Brad Hogg, or replace him with Narine.
In the batting department, Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Manish all have been in excellent form, but it would help the team’s cause if all-rounders Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan can contribute. As always, Andre Russell remains the x-factor. His bowling came apart against Mumbai, but he has the ability to fightback, and play a match-winning role for which he’s renowned.
--By A Cricket Analyst