Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), now in their fourth season, have struggled to attain the visibility that some of the more ‘glamorous’ teams have achieved. On Saturday at Uppal, they play host for the first time this year to a team, Kolkata Knight Riders, who have thrived on publicity and have two IPL crowns. (Fixtures | Squads)
Though both teams are coming in on the back of two losses, their respective defeats were rather contrasting. KKR ran Mumbai Indians close; Sunrisers, on the other hand, were listless against a marauding RCB.
Shikhar Dhawan again showed his frailty against balls that don’t quite come straight at him and got cleaned-up by Parvez Rasool’s first delivery of the match. The run-chase of 229 was never going to easy but the hollow nature of Dhawan’s dismissal exposed the brittle middle-order.
Sunrisers are known often to come up with moves that seem more pedantic than judicious, and sending Eoin Morgan at No.6 was one of them. When Warner was dismissed, RCB were still relying on leg-spinner Yuvzvendra Chahal to keep things quiet, and Morgan’s ability to clear the leg-side boundaries would have come in handy.
The IPL is a two-month platform every year for Gautam Gambhir to prove that he still remains relevant, and the KKR skipper proved that he still possesses the grit and determination with a 52-ball 64 against Mumbai. It was, however, Manish Pandey and Andre Russell though who provided the fireworks.
The loss of Ashish Nehra for at least the next two matches is a debilitating blow for Sunrisers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was SRH’s most successful bowler last year, but he missed his length regularly in the death overs against RCB. Thankfully, Mustafizur Rahman’s impressive IPL debut with clever changes of pace galore was the lone bright point for Hyderabad.
So impressive were the KKR bowlers against Delhi that you could almost pardon them for a collective off-day at the office against Mumbai, with both their fast bowlers and spinners being taken to the cleaners.
News from the bench
With Nehra out, Sunrisers will likely to go for Barinder Sran as a like-for-like replacement, but their spin department looks wafer-thin with only Karn Sharma in the mix, and that could open the door for left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma. With the venue not expected to be overly in favour of spin KKR should go for a Yadav-swap, bringing in Umesh for Kuldeep. And they could always augment that by bringing in Shakib Al Hasan as the spinning all-rounder for Hastings.