Dubai: It’s been a case of so-near-yet-so-far for Sunrisers Hyderabad so far in the 2021 Indian Premier League with David Warner’s men toeing the line but unable to find that little bit extra to carry them over the line.
Three matches, three defeats and a spot at the bottom of the barrel; that’s how it has panned out for the 2016 Champions.
There might be something about giving chase that is not sitting well with the Sunrisers. They lost their opener with Kolkata Knight Riders by 10 runs after choosing to field and that same decision preceded their six-run defeat by Royal Challengers Bangalore in their second outing. Against Mumbai Indians in the third game, they were asked to field and lost by 13 runs. Things may have been different if they were to bat first, but predicting the preciseness of that is nigh impossible for the Sunrisers have shown absolutely no application with the bat.
Their bowling has been better in comparison as they managed to restrict two powerful batting units in RCB and MI to sub-150 totals.
On Wednesday, the second day of double-headers, SRH will be desperate to put an end to their run of defeats against Punjab Kings. In the second game of the day in Mumbai, Kolkata Knights Riders will have their task cut out against Chennai Super Kings, who are gradually coming into their own.
KL Rahul-led Punjab are the second most prolific batting outfit in this year’s tournament with 522 runs scored, but they too have their flaws. And if you haven’t already guessed it, in stark contrast to SRH, their inability to put games to bed has to do with their bowling.
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SRH, to begin with, must ensure that Warner, Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey aren’t the only ones shouldering the yoke of scoring runs. The trio have been the only notable contributors so far with Bairstow’s total of 110 followed closely by Pandey’s 101 and Warner’s 93. It now points to whether Kane Williamson has recovered or not from his elbow injury. The New Zealander had a brilliant time in 2018 when scoring a massive 735 in 17 innings and played a crucial role in SRH reaching the play-offs last season as he scored 315 in 12 matches for the Orange brigade.
Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been the standout performer in the SRH bowling ranks with 4/64 from his three matches. Khan wasn’t among the wickets against MI the other night, but finished with enviable figures of 0/22 from his four overs. West Indian Jason Holder has only featured against RCB so far and returned a match best of 3/30. While Khan should have a chance to add to his tally, SRH might want to go with a spin-heavy line-up to keep Rahul and Co from flourishing off pace.
Rahul, meanwhile, is third on the batting charts. The PBKS skipper has scored 157 so far at an average of 52.33 and a strike rate of 145.37 while his tally includes his massive 50-ball 91 in the opener with Rajasthan. Deepak Hooda and Mayank Agarwal are far behind with 96 and 83 respectively, while Chris Gayle has just 61, which includes his 28-ball 40 against Rajasthan.
Neither side is likely to change the line-up drastically, but Rahul might want to cut back on pace - meaning either of or both Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith could be left out of this one with seamer Chris Jordan clearly a better option to join Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh. Bowling allrounder Hooda is likely to get more of the ball at the MA Chidambaram after getting just two overs so far to dish out his off-spin while it will be interesting to see if world No.1 ranked T20 batsman Dawid Malan is among the selectors’ picks today.
Catch the match
Punjab Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Start: 2 pm UAE.
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Chennai Super Kings
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Start: 6 pm UAE.