Dubai: Will the home crowd at the Eden Gardens be able to cheer on Kolkata Knight Riders to a place in the final of the Indian Premier League? The second qualifier on Friday is a battle between Kolkata, who have gained momentum through four successive victories and table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad who have seen their momentum fade following four straight defeats.
Over 56,000 people had turned up for the eliminator on Wednesday, which saw the Knight Riders conquer Rajasthan Royals backed by the vociferous support from the crowd. The pressure from the crowd will be much more intense in the second qualifier as Kolkata meet Hyderabad, who had played brilliant cricket in the tournament to finish on top of the table but were forced to bow before the spirited show from Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.
It is such a spirited performance that is needed from Kolkata to extend their victorious run. The spirit that Kolkata showed to overcome a bad start against Rajasthan and post a challenging total and also fight back to restrict their opponents in the eliminator is what is needed from them in the second qualifier too. However the difference between Hyderabad and Rajasthan is that the Hyderabad team has time and again in this tournament displayed their ability to pull off victories while Kolkata are a team who have peaked only towards the end.
Kolkata skipper Dinesh Karthik, who led from the front with a fine knock at a crucial stage of the match, has stressed on the importance of playing positively in the second qualifier too. Commenting on the victory over Rajasthan he said: “In these games, it is about the attitude and the belief about how much of it you have got. In these types of crunch games, it is never about the par score; it’s about how much pressure you can put on the other side,”
Hyderabad skipper Kane Williamson has led the team brilliantly and has also been as inspiring as Karthik with his splendid batting performances. After his team’s defeat to Chennai, Williamson had said: “Death bowling is our strength, but Chennai played well and showed their depth with the bat. It’s important we show some signs of improvement on the defects in the team that caused the defeat.”
Many believe that Hyderabad’s poor show may have been due to complacency following a string of impressive victories. In T20 format, momentum matters a lot and a string of defeats is not easy to overcome.
Hyderabad’s batting is heavily dependent on Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan while two of their top batsmen, Manish Pandey and Yousuf Pathan, haven’t been in form. Coming from Mumbai’s bouncy wicket, Hyderabad batsmen will have to adapt to the Eden wicket, which has been aiding spin. The fact that Kolkata are playing their two play-off matches in front of their home crowd will help them a lot. However statistics favour Hyderabad. In the 14 matches they have played against one another, Hyderabad have won nine times and Kolkata only on five occasions.
In a qualifier, statistics can only give a psychological advantage but a victory can be carved out only with timely breakthroughs and breezy knocks. The first qualifier has proved that even topping the table has no value in a battle to stake claim for a place in the final.
Catch the match
Sunrisers Hyderabad v Kolkata Knight Riders, 5.30pm
Match broadcast live on BeIN Sports 13 HD