Injury-hit Sunrisers seek first win


One game into the season and Sunrisers Hyderabad’s injury concerns are already piling up. After losing Yuvraj Singh before the tournament for two weeks, Sunrisers will now miss Ashish Nehra for at least two games with a groin injury. However, the silver lining lies in the depth of their bowling reserves, with four fast-bowling options on the bench in Trent Boult, Ben Cutting, Barinder Sran and Abhimanyu Mithun.

Sunrisers did not find much joy in their 45-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday. Their bowling was taken apart, as RCB plundered 227 despite Mustafizur Rahman’s frugality. As long as David Warner batted, Sunrisers believed, but the house came crashing down after he holed out for 58. Sunrisers did not get close despite two quality individual performances. The rest need to perform quickly or this could be a long season.

Like Sunrisers, a sub-par bowling performance cost Kolkata Knight Riders in their previous game, at home against Mumbai Indians. However, one may argue their batsmen did not do enough to get 200, a score they looked set for, for most of their innings. Boosted by the availability of Sunil Narine, Knight Riders will be keen to address those issues in the first afternoon game of the season. Their middle order – Yusuf Pathan, Colin Munro and Suryakumar Yadav – has been largely untested, and could be required at any stage to win a game.

In the spotlight
David Warner’s blitz kept Sunrisers in the hunt in the chase of 228 in their tournament opener. His 25-ball 58 included five sixes. The Rajiv Gandhi Stadium is not as small as the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, but Warner rarely relies on short boundaries. He averages 63.10 in 13 matches in Hyderabad at a strike rate of 167.37, including six fifties. Sunrisers will once again be dependent on their best batsman for a strong start.

Knight Riders’ tale of two halves against Mumbai was illustrated by Andre Russell’s tale of two halves. Coming in at no. 4, Russell smashed a whirlwind 17-ball 36 to propel his side to 187, but he also conceded 52 off his four overs. Despite most of the bowlers varying their pace on a two-paced Kolkata pitch, Russell failed to adapt as the batsmen used his pace to accrue boundaries. Knight Riders need a firing Russell – with bat and ball – to entertain hopes of their third title.

Team news
Sunrisers have to make a forced changed with Nehra sidelined for at least two games. In terms of a like-for-like replacement, Boult and Sran fit the bill. If they choose the former, Eoin Morgan might be pushed out of the XI.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (probable): 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Moises Henriques, 4 Naman Ojha (wk), 5 Deepak Hooda, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Ashish Reddy, 8 Karn Sharma, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Barinder Sran

If Narine is available for selection, John Hastings could make way. As a result, chinaman Kuldeep Yadav may be displaced for pacer Umesh Yadav. Knight Riders also have the option of Shakib Al Hasan.

Kolkata Knight Riders (probable): 1 Robin Uthappa (wk), 2 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Colin Munro/Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Suryakumar Yadav, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Sunil Narine/John Hastings, 10 Brad Hogg, 11 Kuldeep Yadav/Umesh Yadav

Pitch and conditions
In the past, the pitch at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has provided even bounce and carry, aiding stroke-making. Both sides boast firepower that can utilise these conditions. There is no rain forecast.

Stats and trivia
Since the start of 2013, Shikhar Dhawan’s highest score in all T20s is the unbeaten 73 he scored against Mumbai Indians in May 2013.
Yusuf Pathan averages 99.50 against Sunrisers, with 199 runs in six games at a strike rate of 184.25.
“You can see he’s got a lot of confidence in his skills. He practices all his deliveries religiously in the practice sessions, which means he’s not only talented but working hard to control his variations.”

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