Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders
Thursday May 26, 12:30am
It’s do-or-die as Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders do battle at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday morning with the winner staying alive, while the loser will be left to focus on what could have been.
After dropping their opening two games the Sunrisers proceeded to win seven of their next eight, before surrendering a top-two spot by losing three of their last four, most recently going down to Thursday’s opponents in their final group game.
It was a rare failure for Hyderabad when chasing, having won their previous five games batting second with captain David Warner top-scoring in four of those victories.
Warner has been in superb form throughout the entire tournament, racking up seven half-centuries in 14 innings and averaging 54.83 at a strike-rate of 150.91.
Support for Warner has been relatively thin outside of fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan who has averaged 46.30 at a more sedate strike-rate of 118.71.
However it is in the field where Sunrisers have really excelled, led by the highly-impressive Mustafizur Rahman who has claimed 16 scalps at an average of 22.25 and particularly frugal economy rate of 6.71.
Mustafizur has been well supported by local quicks Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran, although leg-spinner Karn Sharma has been disappointing, going wicketless in his five appearances this season.
Hyderabad will also have to deal without the services of experienced spearhead Ashish Nehra who has been ruled out of the rest of the competition with a hamstring injury.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata have been fairly consistent throughout the tournament although their recent form is also a concern, dropping three of their last five games and needing to beat the Sunrisers in their last-start to shore up fourth position on the ladder.
That victory was under-pinned by another match-winning performance from powerful all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, who this season has plundered 359 runs at a staggering average of 89.75 and strike-rate of 148.34.
Yusuf has often benefitted from the platform laid by top-order mainstays Gautum Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey who have all had sound, if not outstanding, tournaments.
With the ball Sunil Narine has again proved very difficult to get away, averaging 24.45 whilst conceding less than seven runs an over.
Fellow spinner Piyush Chawla has also had a solid season, although was strangely left out of KKR’s last game and they have struggled to find the right combination, chopping and changing their bowling attack regularly throughout the competition.
The Knight Riders will also be sweating on the fitness of dangerous all-rounder Andre Russell who has missed their last two matches with a leg injury. One factor in KKR’s favour is their excellent record in IPL finals where they have won four out of five games.
Feroz Shah Kotla
The Kotla has achieved a rare feat in this year’s competition in that the team batting first has actually won the majority of matches here.
An average first innings score of 7/159 suggests that the batsmen have not had it all their own way and with two relatively strong bowling attacks that trend may continue. It’s also worth noting that seven of ten opening partnerships have failed to reach 15.
- Hyderabad have won only one of their last four matches.
- However Hyderabad have won five out of seven games when batting second.
- Hyderabad’s opponents have outscored them in the first six overs just twice out of 14 games.
- Kolkata have won six out of seven games when batting second.
- On the flip side Kolkata have won only two out of seven games when batting first.
Kolkata have been installed as slight favourites to beat Hyderabad for the second time in four days with the Sunrisers marginal outsiders.
This is a fairly tricky match to pick as both sides – despite making the top-four – are not in the greatest of form and both have been affected by injury.
Both teams also have a considerably stronger record when chasing, however find themselves playing at a neutral venue which has typically favoured the side batting first.
All things considered it’s hard to pick any holes in the current odds so I’d suggest we look elsewhere to find some value.
One area where the Sunrisers may have an advantage is within the powerplay overs as their batting is very top-heavy while the pace trio of Bhuvneshwar, Sran and Mustafizur have generally kept things tight early on with the ball.
That has been reflected in the fact that Hyderabad’s opponents have outscored them in the first six overs just twice out of 14 occasions in this year’s competition.
The Sunrisers are also on a run of eight straight games where they have not been outscored by their opponents in the powerplay, in that time averaging 47 with the bat whilst only conceding an average of 39 with the ball.
Conversely KKR’s strength with both bat and ball has come more in the middle and death overs than up front, outscoring their opponents in the powerplay just six times out of 14 and only once in their past five.
In those five games they have averaged a respectable 46 with the bat inside the first six overs, however their bowlers have leaked an average of 48 with the likes of Andre Russell and Morne Morkel proving expensive before the spinners are brought in to put the skids on the opposition.
Given those varying records I’m prepared to back the Sunrisers to be ahead of the game at the six-over mark on Thursday.