- KKR have a better head-to-head record against the SRH (nine wins in 14 meetings).
- SRH clinched a five-wicket win after bowling out KKR for 138 in their early-season meeting at Eden Gardens.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), two teams with contrasting records of late, meet in the penultimate match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 — Qualifier 2 at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Friday, May 25.
While the hosts have won four matches on the bounce, including a 25-run win over Rajasthan Royals in the Eliminator on Wednesday, the two-wicket defeat to Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Tuesday in Qualifier 1 was SRH's fourth straight defeat.
Sunrisers, who had finished round-robin league stage on the top of the points table, have lost steam and they need to buckle up and deliver if they are to give themselves a shot at second IPL title.
Nonetheless, skipper Kane Williamson would have only been happy with his team's bowling effort during their defeat to CSK. The Sunrisers almost defended a 139-run total as they had MS Dhoni's reeling at 65 for 6 before individual brilliance from the opener and South Africa captain Faf du Plessis took the Men in Yellow past the finish line and into the final.
SRH had conceded aplenty in their last three league matches but on Tuesday their bowlers found form. Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan was at his best, conceding just 11 runs and picking two wickets in his four-over spell.
Spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar was tidy as usual while Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma were amongst the wickets.
Middle-order concerns for the Sunrisers
Nonetheless, Williamson would want his batsmen, especially the middle-order to take up more responsibility. While the skipper (685) and Shikhar Dhawan (437) have been amongst the runs, the likes of Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, and Yusuf Pathan have been inconsistent.
On the other hand, KKR, with momentum on their side, will be hoping to make it five on five and set up a meeting with CSK on Sunday. Spurred on by a passionate home crowd, Dinesh Karthik's men will be hard to stop as well.
Even as their dangerous openers — Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn failed on Wednesday, KKR dug deep and were benefited by contributions from Karthik, Shubman Gill, and Andre Russell. With an in-form middle order and a lot of variety in their bowling attack, KKR look like a well-oiled machine with the necessary ammunition to boot out the table-toppers.
There is nothing much to separate the two teams but if the conditions during Wednesday's Eliminator are anything to go by, SRH will have a slight advantage heading into Friday's outing as they have been impeccable on tracks that don't offer a lot of pace.
Players to watch out for
The Afghanistan teenager has already picked up 18 wickets in the ongoing tournament and will be hoping to add to his tally on Friday. Khan will be licking his lips to bowl on the Eden Gardens surface, which offered plenty of assistance to spinners during KKR's win over RR.
The big-hitting opener will be key to KKR's chances as the hosts would be looking to make maximum use of the powerplay on Friday. Narine can be dangerous as he can take the game away from oppositions quickly, especially in low-scoring matches.
Both the teams are unlikely to tinker with the playing XI for the all-important clash.
KKR probable playing XI: Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.
SRH probable playing XI: Kane Williamson (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Carlos Brathwaite, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul.
Kolkata pitch and conditions
Eden Gardens is expected to offer a lot but slow turn to the spinners on Friday. It has been raining in Kolkata over the last few days but clear skies are predicted for Friday evening in the City of Joy.