In any poll for picking one of the most consistent franchises in the IPL, the name Sunrisers Hyderabad is a sure top contender. They have been a team that has mixed domination and consistency in equal measure, and perhaps the only reason they do not come to mind as with a similar immediacy when thinking about authority, as a Mumbai Indians does, is the lack of titles. In leagues as ruthlessly competitive as IPL – and none matches it, so only IPL – winning titles is the only way to stamp authority.
Despite that, SRH’s consistency has been monumental: they have qualified without fail for five seasons on the trot, no mean feat in a league with stakes as high. In 2020, they seemed out of sorts for the first time, losing 2/3rd of their first nine games before bouncing back like an elephant thrown on a trampoline. They halted RCB’s run in the eliminator before DC halted theirs in the Qualifier. But that they came as long, despite being where they once were, speaks of their character.
Their success in the previous season cannot be seen in isolation from the setbacks they received one after another. They lost mainstay Bhuvneshwar Kumar for the entire season. Mitchell Marsh was hardly in before an injury threw him out, and Wriddhiman Saha was absent at a decisive moment. Then, issues around overseas playing combination have always haunted Warner’s men.
Should Warner-Bairstow or Warner-Saha open? If the former, who will be the other two overseas? A forgettable run last year for Bairstow made them pair Saha and Warner, a move that paid rich dividends. But a franchise does not pick Bairstow to sit him out often. Owing to combination issues, they have had to rest Kane Williamson at times. This year, SRH has another top-order man Jason Roy (as opted-out Mitchell Marsh’s replacement) apart from Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Mujeeb ur Rahman, and Mohammad Nabi.
Given they play a majority of their games at the spin paradise of Chepauk, the role of Rashid, Rahman, and Nabi will be crucial. But with as many brilliant overseas options, the problem of making an eleven appears to be coming back. For now, they must be content with a fit Bhuvneshwar Kumar – who was in sensational form against England recently – and expect their rather young middle-order (Virat Singh, Abhishek Sharma, and Abdul Samad) to fire around Manish Pandey, to give them some room to make a settled overseas combination.
On the other hand is Kolkata Knight Riders, who again fall in the middle of excellence and mediocrity. They boast of two titles, but the glory has been a thing of distant past. In 2020, KKR finished with just as many points as the teams that finished third and fourth, but a poor net run denied them entry. For a team that has constantly had the likes of Eoin Morgan, Andre Rusell, Sunil Narine, apart from other big guns that keep walking in and out, KKR’s success rate is underwhelming.
Big guns aside, the team has arguably the finest combination of youngsters in Gill, Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, and Shivam Mavi. Adding to these their recruits Shakib al Hasan and Harbhajan Singh, KKR poses to be an archetype of the clichéd “youth and experience” model. But room for improvement remains high. From an unsettled batting order to lacking discipline with the ball at the death to heavily misfiring Narine, Russell, and Kuldeep Yadav, troubles were aplenty for them in 2020. Such was the uncertainty in the order that Rahul Tripathi batted as low as number 7 to open the innings, and they tried as many as five opening combinations.
In the middle of the season, Dinesh Karthik tossed the captaincy duties to Eoin Morgan, but that did not change their fortunes the way they would have wanted. However, with Tim Seifert, Ben Cutting, Sheldon Jackson, Karun Nair, and Gurkeerat Singh Mann walking inside, KKR would hope that they could settle things better. Eyes will be on Shakib too, who can be the answer to many of their questions.
Pitch and conditions
That the track was not easy to bat on was evident during the tournament-opener. In Harshal Patel’s variation lied the trick for the bowlers as he consistently took the pace off the ball and used the cutters to good effect. Pace had some rewards with the new ball and both Jasprit Bumrah and Marco Jensen showed that fast bowlers can stay interested even if it is Chennai. Expect another moderate scoring encounter.
Playing combinations for SRH vs KKR
Bairstow and Warner have been one of the hit duos, and at least at the start, they are expected to be seen together. With Rashid Khan being a default choice, the lone remaining overseas slot should be Williamson’s. SRH must be delighted with the Kumar-Sharma pair available along with the sensational T Natarajan.
Probable XI: David Warner (C), Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Their opening combination is a hard guess, but expect Rahul Tripathi to get more chances after he performed at the position, with Rana, Morgan, and Karthik following. Varun Chakravarthy had a breakthrough season (17 wickets from 13 matches) but KKR also has the experienced Harbhajan Singh with them.
Predicted XI: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C) Dinesh Karthik, Shakib al Hasan/Sunil Narine, Andre Rusell, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Prasidh Krishna, Varun Chakravarthy/Harbhajan Singh
SRH vs KKR Head to Head
Played – 19 | SRH – 7 | KKR – 12
SRH vs KKR Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
Source: The source of this content is our cricket news platform Crictracker.
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