Two matches. Two comprehensive losses. First to the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 45 runs, and then to the Kolkata Knight Riders by 8 wickets. Not what you would term an ideal start. But Sunrisers Hyderabad would be looking to get their campaign back on track when they take on defending champions Mumbai Indians at home. (Fixtures | Squads)
Injuries to some of their key players like Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra notwithstanding, they have failed to gel as a side so far. The Sunrisers think tank know for a fact that they cannot afford any more slip-ups if they aspire to make any headway in this edition. For that to happen, they would need a bit more tactical acumen from their captain, David Warner, especially while ringing in the bowling changes. In the two matches, he has been critical of holding back his left-arm Bangladeshi pacer Mustafizur Rahman at key moments, which in hindsight proved costly. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Indians too have had an indifferent start to their campaign so far, losing two games and winning just one – against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.
A worrying sign for the Sunrisers has been their over-reliance on captain David Warner and Eoin Morgan. Their dominance has been simply overwhelming. Just to put things in perspective, the duo have scored 144 of the 324 runs scored by the Sunrisers in the two games so far. Warner’s opening partner Shikhar Dhawan has had a rather tepid start to his IPL campaign, a continuation of his wretched form in the World T20. A good start from their openers is what the Sunrisers will need to open their account in the wins column. Mumbai Indians on the other hand, will be once again banking on their captain Rohit Sharma. His 84 proved to be the cornerstone of his side’s only win in Kolkata last week. Sharma will be ably backed by local lad Ambati Rayudu, and power hitters like Kieron Pollard, Mitchell McClenagan and Jos Buttler.
The injury to Ashish Nehra will be a huge blow to Hyderabad. He is the bowler in form, and his incisive bowling in the Powerplay would have made a difference in a big-ticket home game like this. But Warner’s side is well replenished in the bowling department, having the likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran. As far as Mumbai are concerned, they have Krunal Pandya – a handy left-arm spinner who can complement the experienced Harbhajan Singh. Jasprit Bumrah and the Kiwi pace duo of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenagan will be a threat which the Sunrisers cannot afford to ignore.
News from the bench
Martin Guptill, who wasn’t picked in the IPL auction, joins the Mumbai Indians as a replacement for the injured Lendl Simmons. Judging by the kind of starts he is known to give at the start, the MI think tank might be tempted to include him in the playing XI. As far as Sunrisers are concerned, injury to Nehra means Barinder Sran will get to retain his place.