The comeback win against Rajasthan on Friday has taken Hyderabad closer to the play-offs. Now a win against Kolkata on Sunday will confirm their place in the last four. Bangalore’s 24-run win over Chennai in a truncated eight-over game on Saturday put the latter on the same number of points (18 points) but Hyderabad hold the aces with a game in hand.
And it will help that they play their last match at Uppal as SRH have won six out of seven games on the sluggish home wicket,with their bowlers making things difficult for visiting batsmen.
However,even after 15 matches,their batting remains a problem area. Only Shikhar Dhawan appears to be hitting the ball well. Little wonder that he tops the team’s batting chart with 236 runs. This despite joining the squad late and playing just eight matches.
While SRH have flourished on their home turf,the defending champions have been off-colour over all and particularly abysmal on the road,winning only one ‘away’ game.
Also they have relied too heavily on a few individuals,both in batting and bowling. They have choked when under pressure,but now that they are no longer in contention for the play-off slots,it will be interesting to see if they can play “fearless cricket” that captain Gautam Gambhir had talked about. If so,they may spoil SRH’s party.
One particular player in the KKR ranks that the hosts will be wary of,is Sunil Narine. The West Indian spinner is the only KKR player rubbing shoulders with the best performers in the league,with 22 wickets in 15 games. And on such a slow wicket as Uppal’s,Narine can become an even bigger threat. The SRH batsmen will need to put their best foot forward if they are to unlock this mystery.