Dubai: It will be a contest between two struggling sides when Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Kings XI Punjab at the Dubai International Stadium in Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday.
Occupying the fifth and last spots, respectively, in the eight-team standings after five matches apiece, both teams have struggled to get their best playing XI on the field. After starting off with a loss, SRH worked out two wins before a couple of defeats pushed them back with just four points to show in their campaign so far.
In their last game, SRH went down by 34 runs against leaders and defending champions Mumbai Indians, but far worse was the loss of their bowling spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who will no longer be part of the IPL due to a thigh muscle injury.
The injury and the subsequent exit of the pacer was confirmed by the franchise in a tweet, who named young left-arm pacer Prithvi Raj Yarra as Bhuvaneshwar’s replacement for the remainder of the competition. Bhuvaneshwar’s replacement is the Andhra Pradesh bowler, who has taken 39 wickets in 11 first-class matches, and he is expected to join the Sunrisers squad shortly in the UAE.
Possibly, the biggest positive for Sunrisers is the return to form of captain David Warner, even though the Australian struggled through his innings of 60 in the last game. With Punjab pacers doing well so far, one would expect early wickets to fall, bringing the middle order of Manish Pandey and Kane Williamson into focus to shore up their inning.
Things have been far worse for KXIP. Lying at the bottom of the standings with just one win to show from five matches, the Punjab side has clearly forgotten to forge a team effort. Starting with that opening loss in the Super Over against the Delhi Capitals, the side has struggled to find its natural rhythm and self-belief.
In their last match against former champions Chennai Super Kings, KXIP were unable to defend a total in excess of 180 runs - and that may have further hurt their confidence.
Their bowling attack, led by the experienced international Mohammed Shami, who has eight wickets from five games so far - looks thin. Ravi Bishnoi, the young leg spinner, has enough promise though with four wickets.
Scoring runs, especially at the top order, shouldn’t be a worry for KXIP. Skipper Lokesh Rahul has led from the front, and is the holder of the Orange Cap with 302 runs to his name. Mayank Agarwal is third on the list with 272 runs, just 10 behind second-placed Faf du Plessis from Chennai Super Kings.
However, their middle order which boasts of good names like Nicholas Pooran, Glenn Maxwell and Karun Nair - have failed to fire so far. It will be interesting to see if luck smiles on them on Thursday.
Catch the match
Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kings XI Punjab
Venue: Dubai International Stadium
Start: 6 pm
Live telecast on Bein Sports