Bengaluru: Given the way the playoff berths’ scenario played out, going to the wire as it were, Sunrisers Hyderabad would be chuffed to have eased into the Eliminator. But admittedly, David Warner’s men would probably have hoped for a top-two finish.
Then again, that’s the way the dice has rolled and the defending champions will take it: ranged against them on Wednesday are the two-time winners — Kolkata Knight Riders, who slipped in their citadel to the rampant Mumbai Indians but had enough in the tank to clinch the fourth playoff slot.
Given that it’s a straight shoot-out — the loser goes out while the winner lives to fight another day — both the Knight Riders and the Sunrisers have fond memories of the venue, having won the title at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
But past show is of little consequence as KKR found to their chagrin, going down to MI at home to snap a sequence of 12 successful chases in their den on Saturday.
Going into the crunch game, SRH, led imperiously by their captain David Warner are a bit on tenterhooks over Yuvraj Singh’s finger injury.
Though SRH didn’t miss Yuvraj in their final league clash against Gujarat Lions at Kanpur over the weekend, with Warner once again marshalling his resources admirably, the left-handed Yuvraj will be hugely crucial to their chances of clinching the Qualifier 2 berth against the formidable Knight Riders.
While the wily Nehra’s absence has not been felt with the pace trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj and Siddarth Kaul taking on the responsibility, it’s their hugely impressive Afghan imports — Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi, who have charted their success. Rashid, the teen leggie and Nabi, the 32-year-old offie are at different ends of the spectrum in age, experience and craft but the tweakers have been Warner’s go-to men in most situations.
It’s no gainsaying that the Knight Riders are one of the strongest teams in the league and Gautam Gambhir and Co. have excelled in their ability to mystify the opposition with constant change in plans. They are packed with big-hitters with an unexpected opening success in Sunil Narine giving them plenty of depth in the skipper, wicket-keeper batsman Robin Uthappa, the devastating Chris Lynn, the consistent Manish Pandey and the dangerous Colin de Grandhomme.While the contest will be expectedly entertaining, threat of showers could dampen the show.