The Sunrisers Hyderabad pulled off an impressive victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders to put themselves to within two wins of the IPL 2016 title. The first of those victories will need to come on Friday, when they play the Gujarat Lions at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
While SRH coped with the pressure of a lose-and-you-are-out-of-the-tournament match pretty well, with Yuvraj Singh and the bowlers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Moises Henriques, stepping up, the Lions had to bow down to an AB De Villiers special in Qualifier 1.
After their batting, barring Dwayne Smith, failed to sparkle in Bengaluru, their bowlers, with Dhawal Kulkarni front and centre, did outstandingly to reduce the powerful RCB lineup to 29/5, but that one elusive wicket remained beyond them, that of De Villiers. The great man, duly, exploded in the final five overs, in his own inimitable style, to carry RCB straight into the final, leaving GL to find a way through Qualifier 2.
That path can sometimes prove to be a blessing in disguise. Because while RCB cool off in the Bengaluru, waiting to see who they will meet in the final on Sunday, GL will continue playing, with that rhythm not quite going away, which in turn will stand them in good stead, if they manage to beat SRH.
The same can be said about the Sunrisers, of course, because it is crazy what momentum can do for you in IPL. Having lost three of their last four matches in the league stages, including the last one to KKR, it looked like the season was going to end in pain for SRH, only for the players to step up when they were needed most. One more win on Friday, will make it two in a row, and as RCB themselves will tell you, having morale-boosting victories behind you can work wonders.
The Kotla pitch on Wednesday, in the Eliminator, played a little slow, even if it was fairly conducive to the batsmen. Being able to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible, will be essential, and that is where the Sunrisers Hyderabad will have the advantage.
They have already played and won on the Kotla pitch, and if the wicket for Qualifier 2 is similar to the one in the Eliminator, it will be advantage Sunrisers. But then, GL will know it is all about playing to full potential on a given day, and in Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, Dwayne Bravo, Smith and Suresh Raina, they have plenty who can turn the game around single-handedly.
SRH will look to their own match-winners in Yuvraj, David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar and Mustafizur Rahman. If the Sunrisers bowlers do what they do best, yet again, we just might have a South Indian derby for an IPL 2016 final.
IPL 2016 playoffs: Qualifier 2: Gujarat Lions vs Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Date: Friday, May 27.
Time: 8 p.m. IST (3.30 p.m. BST, 10.30 a.m. ET).
Venue: Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi.
TV listings: India: Sony Max, Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket. UK: Sky Sports 1. USA: ESPN. Canada: Sportsnet. South Africa and Sub Sahran Africa: SuperSport. International (Rest of the world): Cricketgateway.