The Sunrisers Hyderabad need to figure out their iffy middle order if they are to top the Kolkata Knight Riders and move into Qualifier 2 against the Gujarat Lions. This IPL 2016 Eliminator at the Feroz Shah Kotla could well be decided by how well the SRH batsmen play the KKR spinners.
With KKR picking up a victory over the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their final league game of the season, confidence will be high in the former's camp, and with plenty of playoff experience behind them as well, the former champions will start as the favourites in this match.
Here is a prediction of how the IPL 2016 playoffs Eliminator – SRH vs KKR – could go.
If SRH bat first: David Warner looks determined from the off, and with that blade of his working well, Shikhar Dhawan is happy to bide his time. The opening partnership is worth 84, with Dhawan scoring just 24 of those, but when Warner falls to Sunil Narine, Dhawan takes over, quite well too, with those pickup shots and drives of his working quite well. Kane Williamson settles in nicely at the other end, but after a decent start, he is dismissed by Kuldeep Yadav. However, SRH do not lose their rhythm, as Yuvraj Singh comes in and the two left-handers, despite plenty of bowling pressure from the spinners and Andre Russell, forge a brilliant partnership to take the Sunrisers Hyderabad to 183.
Chasing down a big score in a do-or-die match is never easy, but Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa are calmness personified. The left and right-hand openers ally for 93 runs for the first wicket, setting the perfect base for the in-form Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan and Russell to do their bit. Only Pandey, Pathan and Russell are required, as the three right-handers tonk sixes and fours at the right time, with Mustafizur Rahman also unable to do much, to take their team home with four balls left, admirable considering the fact that teams have defended totals well on this ground.
If KKR bat first: Gambhir is dismissed in the first over by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but Uthappa looks smooth at the other end, with Pandey joining him to help KKR score 57 runs in the Powerplay overs. With that strong start, a big score looks inevitable, but that is put in doubt when Moises Henriques picks up both Uthappa and Pandey in the same over. However, Yusuf Pathan continues his good form, scoring a quickfire 47 to help KKR to 174.
Dhawan falls early in the chase, piling the pressure further on Warner. With an unreliable middle order, Warner knows he needs to be there till the end, so the left-hander is a touch circumspect to begin with. But, the early pressure is taken off him by Williamson, who strokes three boundaries in a row to set the chase rolling. Williamson, whose strike rate before this match has been quite poor, continues to bat at a good clip, allowing Warner to settle before going slam-bang. The two put on 82 runs together, with Williamson then falling prey to the guiles of Shakib Al Hasan. Deepak Hooda is sent in at No.4 to smash a few, but after a couple of sixes off Kuldeep Yadav, the right-hander departs. So, it is all on Warner and Yuvraj Singh now, with SRH needing 64 from the last five overs. Yuvraj hits a six in the first ball of 16th over, bowled by Morne Morkel, before Warner smashes two consecutive fours off the fifth and sixth balls to give SRH the momentum they need in the death overs. A total of 17 runs come from that over, leaving SRH needing 47 from four overs. Easier said than done, but Warner and Yuvraj are in the mood now, determined not to throw their good season away, and the two left-handers bring all their experience to the fore to see SRH through and into Qualifier 2 against GL on Friday.