The Sunrisers Hyderabad need to find that winning mojo again, if they are to keep their hopes of making it to the IPL 2016 final alive. Having gone on a brilliant winning run, SRH found themselves struggling to cross that top-two finish line when they needed a victory the most, forcing them to battle it out in the Eliminator at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi on Wednesday. The formidable Kolkata Knight Riders await in that Eliminator, and David Warner's men will know they will have to play out of their skins to pick up a win and setup a Qualifier 2 clash against the Gujarat Lions.
This match at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi will see one team who knows what needs to be done in the crunch games go up against another who are not quite there yet as far as experience in the playoffs is concerned. But then, T20 cricket is such that, it is all about performing on the day, with one man – as AB De Villiers showed on Tuesday – able to change the team's fortunes around with a bit of brilliance, be that with the willow or the white cherry.
For SRH to pull off a victory, they will need to put their last defeat behind them. Needing a win to seal a top-two place, the Sunrisers Hyderabad middle order caved in to the KKR spinners, with it, not just losing their grip on two cracks at the final, but also allowing Gautam Gambhir's men a way into the playoffs.
In that defeat, SRH did not even have to contend with the all-round skills of Andre Russell, who is expected to make his way into the playing XI, after recovering from a leg injury. Russell has been KKR's best player in IPL 2016, and there is little doubt that the West Indian will strengthen this already-confident KKR team – being led brilliantly by Gambhir, with Yusuf Pathan bringing the power -- even further. The all-rounder is likely to come in for his West Indies teammate Jason Holder.
Gambhir and coach Jacques Kallis went in for the chinaman spin option of Kuldeep Yadav over the legspin of Piyush Chawla in the last game against the Sunrisers, and with the former finishing with figures of 4-0-28-2, he is likely to keep his place in the playing XI. Chawla, however, could come in for Ankit Rajpoot, if KKR decide to bring back Morne Morkel for Colin Munro, and Gambhir feels two pace options – Morkel and Russell – are enough.
The Sunrises thinktank, led by captain Warner, coach Tom Moody and mentor VVS Laxman, have a few selection decisions to ponder on, chief of them being that final overseas player slot. Eoin Morgan, Kane Williamson and Ben Cutting have all been given a go, with the former two, in particular, not really taking their chances and cementing their place in the side.
In such a crunch match – this is a do-or-die unlike the Qualifier 1 at the Chinnaswamy on Tuesday – SRH might go with experience, so Morgan or Williamson is likely to get the nod, while the captain will hope the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Deepak Hooda step up with the bat in the middle order.
Legspinner Karn Sharma has been unimpressive, so there might be a case to bring in left-arm orthodox Bipul Sharma in his place. Warner will hope whichever spinner he chooses does the job on a Kotla pitch, which has offered the slow bowlers assistance in IPL 2016, while also praying those slower balls from the excellent Mustafizur Rahman does the trick on matchday.
Expected playing XI: SRH: David Warner (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Naman Ojha (wk), Moises Henriques, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran, Bipul Sharma, Mustafizur Rahman.
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (C), Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Morne Morkel, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav.