Hyderabad: Both teams have the same number of wins — four — and thereby points, 8. It’s a battle of the equals on paper when Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Kolkata Knight Riders in their penultimate home game here on Sunday afternoon.
The sides, placed five and six on the points table, would be inspired by the Easter resurrection message as they look to climb into the all-important top half of the eight-team grid.
With the tournament entering a crucial stage, the teams simply cannot afford any further slip-ups in their endeavour to qualify for the Playoffs.
KKR have just played the game of their lives on Friday night in which they nearly pulled off a 213-run chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens, courtesy some merciless mauling by muscle man Andre Russell (65 in 25 balls, 2x4, 9x6) and Nitish Rana who hit an unbeaten 85 in just 46 balls with the help of nine boundaries and five sixes that sent a shiver down Virat Kohli’s strong spine.
Needless to say, the Sunrisers have to be wary of Russell, who is in devastating form, evident from the tournament high 39 sixes he has rained in the eight innings he has played till now. Rana is third on the list with 18 hits over the boundary.
That Russell appeared to cramp towards the end on Friday night would trigger smiles in the Orange camp that would have one eye on the medical/ physio’s report. An all-clear would mean the host think tank should come up with multi-level plans to combat the Caribbean crash machine.
Not just Russell. KKR are quite explosive at the top with Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine and bat pretty deep, with captain Dinesh Karthik coming in at No.7. Sun seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Vijay Shankar and Sandeep Sharma, and spinners Rashid Khan and Shahbaz Nadeem have quite a bit on their plates, and hope they don’t make a meal of it.
In the home base, the onus of raising big runs will once again rest with aggressive openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, who are on a roll. Leading with 450 and 365 respectively, they have scored 68 per cent of the team runs as yet. Time the middle order consisting of Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda and Vijay Shankar contributed as well to maintain balance in the side.
Kolkata’s assorted attack comprising new-ball bowlers Harry Gurney and Prasidh Krishna; shrewd spinners in Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav (though he got picked out by RCB’s Moeen Ali the other night) and the ready-for-battle Russell would fancy their chances though as armoured Knights look to outshine the SunKnights look to outshine Sun.