The Rajasthan Royals return from a week-long rest to face the dangerous Sunrisers Hyderabad at home for the first match of the double-header. Rain might be a factor as it was against Delhi Daredevils. SRH have won their last two games thanks to some inspired bowling from their attack. Against a Rajasthan Royals who are always looking shaky with the bat, it will be interesting to see how RR counter them.
The Royals will creep up to the fourth spot with a victory, but their stay might be short-lived as KKR play the game after theirs. Hyderabad will go to the top after CSK lost against Mumbai. Can SRH place one foot in the semis with a win, or will RR cause a huge upset?
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, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler, Rahul Tripathi, D'Arcy Short, Krishnappa Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Prashant Chopra, Sudhesan Midhun, Ben Laughlin, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Jatin Saxena, Dushmantha Chameera, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Heinrich Klaasen, Ish Sodhi.
Where the teams stand
SRH have bowled out both their previous two opponents for below 120, an astonishing feat on its own merit. Add that both teams were chasing very modest targets. The higher target was just 133. Yet, their bowlers persevered under pressure to deliver the goods, without Stanlake and Bhuvi. Mohammad Nabi has perhaps been the weakest link in the attack. He conceded 24 in 2 overs last game, at a rate double any other bowler. SRH have several worthy players who would utilise the spot better, like Alex Hales who could immensely strengthen their unbelievably brittle batting. Chris Jordan is another bowling option they possess. He performed well in the one game he played, against Punjab when Gayle hit 104 against them. Jordan conceded 31 in 4 overs amidst the carnage, an admirable feat. SRH’s attack has been the driving force of their success all season, and it will need to perform once again on Sunday.
Hyderabad have proved just how vulnerable their batting can be without Williamson. Dhawan has suffered an unfortunate loss in form since he retired hurt due to a blow on his elbow, while Saha has been disappointing as well. Pathan, Shakib, and Pandey laboriously constructed their innings’ to ensure SRH reached even 132, and it proved to be enough. All three have looked in good touch in the odd match, but Pandey is the only one to have converted them to fifties. SRH know they cannot keep relying on their bowlers, and their batsmen need to step up soon. Williamson is not likely to keep failing, but replacing Nabi with Hales might just give the batting the impetus they require.
Fantasy Picks: The bowling attack for a fantasy squad has been ready-made by the SRH management. Amongst the batsmen, Williamson is the only reliable choice. Pandey has been their next best player, while Pathan and Shakib follow in the order. The latter two are unreliable, but Shakib is a worthier gamble than Pathan.
Rajasthan’s success this season has largely rested on how well Sanju Samson has performed. He has recorded scores of 92, 37, and 52 in the three matches RR have won so far this season. Jofra Archer is quickly proving to be another potential beacon of hope for RR after his stunning debut against Mumbai. He ended with figures of 4-0-22-3. Gowtham’s 33 from 11 was as influential as anything else in RRs victory. Rajasthan has been far too prone with their bowling all season, but they showed some versatility in the last game. Even their batting has improved, with Stokes now hitting the ball well. Klaasen, Rahane, and Buttler’s fickle forms are an issue, especially with the attack SRH possess. RR’s opening combination has been very unreliable, and Rahane has tinkered with it several times. Losing a wicket early consistently puts far too much pressure on the middle order, and it is imperative for the openers to start well.
RR’s bowling attack has been expensive throughout this year's campaign. Shreyas Gopal has been one of the most economical bowlers all season while Archer adds great support in the pace department. However, the rest have been far too leaky. RR has a good chance to exploit SRHs batting woes, and they must capitalise on it. Their bowlers were good in the last match, and Rahane will be hoping they can continue to be effective. The onus for RR still lies with the bat, and a lot rides on the likes of Samson and Stokes.
Fantasy Picks: Archer, Rahane, Samson, and Stokes are going to be obvious picks from this team. Rahane’s inconsistency is an issue, but he remains a popular pick for his pedigree. Gopal is another reliable choice, while Gowtham is worth gambling on.
SRH win. They have a better-balanced team and have proved that they are never out of the game.
Will the Sunrisers notch another win or could the Rajasthan Royals snag an unlikely win? Let us know in the comments and poll below.