The openers have done well but the middle order remains a worry for SRH. © BCCI
After three games each, both Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad have followed a similar pattern and have occupied slots in the top half of the table. Only net run-rate separates both teams and it will certainly make for a good contest when the two pretty evenly matched teams face off on Saturday (April 15).
KKR won their first game at home, against KXIP, pretty convincingly and will do little to change the momentum they’ve gained. One of the biggest talking points was the move to open the batting with Sunil Narine and there are enough indications that KKR will persist with this strategy and not let it be just a one-off thing. The good form of Gautam Gambhir, the skipper, augurs well for the team and good starts at the top have been pivotal in their wins this season. The return of Umesh Yadav, and his consequent success, balances their bowling unit considerably as well.
For SRH too either of their openers – Shikhar Dhawan or David Warner – have managed to contribute in each of their games but it’s the inconsistent middle order that might worry them going into this game.
Their bowlers did pretty well until they were hit by the dew factor in their previous encounter against Mumbai Indians. That though will not be a problem at Eden Gardens, where they will be playing a day-game and it increases the chances of their bowlers gaining potency.
History: SRH is another team that KKR have consistently got the better of. They have won six of the eight games against SRH overall and have never lost against them in four games at the Eden Gardens.
When: April 15 (Saturday), 04:00 PM
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
What to expect: The pitch is expected to be on the bouncier side as it was when KXIP came visiting. The fact that this is a day game however will reduce the chances of dew and thereby the importance of the toss.
The home side is unlikely to make any changes to the eleven that played just a day ago on the same ground. The combination worked well for the team and they would prefer more of the same. However given the presence of many left-handers in the SRH line-up, it could be a toss up between the two wrist spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla – once again.
Likely XI: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, SuryaKumar Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Colin de Grandhomme, Chris Woakes, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla/Kuldeep Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Trent Boult
The absence of Moises Henriques (due to illness) affected SRH’s batting in their previous game. If the all-rounder is fully fit, he is likely to replace Ben Cutting in the playing eleven. SRH will also have to do some thinking when it comes to picking between Bipul Sharma and Vijay Shankar. The former could come into play in the powerplay overs but the latter could be more effective on a pacer-friendly Kolkata pitch.
Likely XI: David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques/Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Yuvraj Singh, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shankar/Bipul Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra
What they said:
“I don’t consider it a surprise. In T20 cricket you need to be alert in a way that anything is possible. Whether a spinner opens the bowling or a spinner opens the batting. And at the end of the day, most cricketers are pretty adaptable and versatile now. They can play many roles in the side. As a side you need to be prepared for the unexpected. One of the key tactics is to catch you opponent by surprise even if you steal an over from the game whether it be with the bat or the ball it gives you a big advantage” – Tom Moody, SRH coach, on Sunil Narine opening the batting for KKR
“He (Umesh Yadav) was always bowling at pace but even that wicket (of Maxwell) he got yesterday, it was well executed as we spoke before the game how to get Maxwell out when he started to open up. The way he got him out caught behind, following him was exactly as was discussed pre-game so that sort of stuff doesnt go unnoticed from the coaching group. That level of experience he has gained playing consistently for India in all formats. He turned the game for us yesterday” – Simon Katich on the return of Umesh Yadav