The second match of the double-header on Saturday takes us to Kolkata, with two heavyweights set to face each other. KKR will host the Sunrisers in their second home game of the season. Both teams have some concerns going into the match, KKR more so than Hyderabad. The home side are also dealing with a few minor injuries to their players.
With the monstrous bowling attack that SRH possesses, it will be interesting to see how the KKR batsmen respond to the threat. They scored 200 in the last match but failed to defend it, and they will need a similar score to defend on the belter of a wicket that the Eden Gardens has become. Can KKR be the first team to defeat SRH this season, or will the visitors make it three in three?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Rashid Khan, Ricky Bhui, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Mohammad Nabi, Basil Thampi, K Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Sachin Baby, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran.
Where the teams stand
The Sunrisers have chased relatively low targets in both their opening matches. Their bowlers have been exceptional in cleaning up the oppositions for scores below 150 to make the job easier for their batsmen. Adding to this, Shikhar Dhawan being in exceptional form has ensured success for SRH. Should they be asked to bat first at Kolkata, it would completely change the equation they are used to. The SRH batting struggled once Dhawan was dismissed against Mumbai, and if KKR can get him out early, it will be interesting to see how Williamson and co. cope. They do possess a power-packed middle order in Williamson, Pandey, and Shakib, but it was Deepak Hooda who took them home last match. Kolkata's wicket has proved itself to be very conducive to pace, which will benefit the SRH pacers, but also leave their batsmen more vulnerable against KKR’s quicks.
Hyderabad choked Mumbai to 147-9 without Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who was ruled out of the match with a sore back. It is uncertain whether the purple cap holder from the last two editions will make it for this game, but Sandeep Sharma adequately covered for Kumar. Sharma’s figures read 4-0-25-2 after the match, and Kumar could hardly be expected to bowl better. Siddharth Kaul and Rashid Khan have also been fantastic. The former has taken two wickets in each match while maintaining a low economy, while the latter has gone through his overs in miserly fashion as well. Add Stanlake and Shakib to make this arguably the best bowling attack of the tournament. Both have three wickets to their name in the IPL so far, ensuring that every bowler has been contributing to the effort. All SRH need to do now is to ensure they bowl first and complete the routine that is working wonders for them.
Fantasy Picks: Shikhar Dhawan should be the first name on the team here. Any/all of the five bowlers at Williamson’s disposal are worthy picks, while the rest of the batting is a risk. Williamson is a relatively safe choice, while Shakib is also worth a gamble due to his all-round abilities.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata scored 202 in their last game thanks to a blitzkrieg from Andre Russell at the end. Before him, they were struggling at 89-5 after a top order collapse. Lynn and Narine are not the most stable pair out there, despite Narine playing in a no-loss role wherein it doesn't matter if he gets out early. Being one down early on will place Uthappa and everyone below under some pressure. Lynn looked in good touch against CSK before he was undone by Jadeja, and he will have to play a key role if KKR are to win against this bowling lineup. Uthappa was striking the ball crisply before he was run-out, and Dinesh Karthik has successfully played the anchor role in both the innings’. Russell is in good form as well. It is simply a matter of who, if anyone, shows up on their day. The KKR batting need to utilise the good knocks that they have had to get their team to a big score. With at least 5 players who are hitting the ball well, KKR will not be pushovers despite SRH’s bowling capabilities.
KKR have some selection dilemmas they need to address. The spots of Rinku Singh, Vinay Kumar, and Tom Curran are all in jeopardy. Singh has amassed a grand total of 8 runs in his two outings, while Vinay Kumar’s average economy in two games stands at above 15. Curran came into the team due to Johnson suffering a niggle, and now KKR have to decide which pacer to play. Singh and Kumar are both major Achilles heels in the team. The latter failed to defend 17 runs in the last over of the previous match, handing CSK the match in 5 balls. KKR have some quality backups in Jaggi and Gill for Singh and Nagarkoti/Mavi for Kumar. As for Curran, his batting abilities give him an advantage over Johnson. Tom finished on the expensive side in the last match, but he took two big wickets too. Considering that it was his first match, Curran bowled decently in comparison to other bowlers.
The spinners, especially Narine, will be key for KKR with the ball. The pacers have conceded at an aggregate economy of over 10 in the two matches so far, and the KKR wicket is unlikely to help that statistic. KKR have been playing three spinners, and given how much trouble Markande caused SRH, that is unlikely to change. Russell has been bowling with good pace as well, but reports of him sporting a hamstring supporter during training sessions cast his bowling into some doubt. KKR have the upper hand with the bat, but SRH trump them with the ball, making for an interesting contest and a very important toss. Both teams will want to bowl first, and whoever does will probably win the match.
Fantasy Picks: Narine and Karthik are two dependable picks from the KKR lineup. Either of Uthappa and Lynn(but not both) can also be picked given that they were middling the ball regularly in the last game. Vinay Kumar is the last player anyone should pick, while the three aforementioned doubts must be avoided as well. Lastly, Russell is bound to impact the game in some way, and his elegant hitting makes him a boon to any team.
SRH win. Hyderabad’s efficiency with the ball gives them the edge.
Who will claim victory in this epic clash, Sunrisers Hyderabad or Kolkata Knight Riders? Let us know in the comments and poll below.