The second qualifier is upon us as the Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Eden Gardens. Both teams have four match streaks coming into the match. The former have won their last four games on the trot, whereas SRH has lost them. After peaking in the middle stages of the tournament, SRH find themselves with their back against the wall for the first time this season, at it’s most crucial juncture.
KKR needed three in three to qualify, and they achieved that with ease. They have also eliminated RR at home, making a brilliant comeback with both, bat and ball. Can they make it five in five, or will SRH snap their losing streak to set up another competition with CSK in the final?
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.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran, Prasidh Krishna.
Where the teams stand
The Sunrisers find themselves in an unenviable situation. Their failure to win their last four games can be attributed to several reasons. Their bowlers have simply failed to replicate their earlier success on good batting surfaces, and their batting has shown no solidarity beyond Kane Williamson at three. Carlos Brathwaite managed to salvage the innings in the previous match after yet another batting collapse, but SRH need more reliable batsmen to carry through the innings. Dhawan and Williamson account for 49% of all runs scored by SRH this season, exemplifying how top-heavy their batting has been. Their bowling will have to do the job of getting them over the line in Kolkata.
SRHs seemingly invincible attack has been decoded by teams to great effect, as has been evidenced by their performances in recent games. Their attack works best when every member performs to their best abilities, a difficult proposition in high pressure matches. Individuals like Bhuvi and Rashid Khan have continued to perform at par with expectations, but the rest of the attack has been leaky. At the Gardens, they are doomed to suffer yet another expensive night unless they utilize their spinners efficiently like RR did. SRH will have a tough time trying to win this one.
Fantasy Picks: Williamson, Dhawan, Bhuvi, and Rashid Khan are the top picks from SRH. The spinners will have a huge role to play at the Gardens, and Shakib might be another to cash in on the pitch suiting his bowling. Manish Pandey has also played a lot of cricket on this ground, and is another X-factor from SRH.
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR will be mighty pleased with their recent performances. Morale and confidence are invaluable traits to possess heading into big games, and the Knight Riders now possess both after four convincing victories. KKR also defeated SRH the last time the two teams met in Hyderabad, but SRH emerged victorious in the fixture at the Gardens earlier this season. Regardless, KKRs bowling will be the key on this surface, especially against a vulnerable batting order. Their spin troika was excellent against RR, pulling the match back in the teams favor after a disastrous start. Prasidh Krishna has emerged as an excellent death bowler in the last couple of games, while Russell has provided his team much-needed breakthroughs consistently.
If the bowling wasn’t enough, KKRs batting has been in good form too. Their collapse in the previous game betrays how good their batsmen have been, with all of them in good touch and potential match-winners against SRH. Karthik has led from the front, being the teams highest run-scorer this season and savior from the last match. Russell and Gill have been excellent lower down the order, while Narine and Lynn at the top form another dangerous duo. KKR are easily the better team here, and they should clinch this one.
Fantasy Picks: DK, Russell, and Narine remain the top picks from this side. Lynn has been in great form as well, while Shubman Gill could be a surprise package. Kuldeep Yadav is another who has thrived on the home wicket, and could be a match-winner for KKR.
KKR win. They have simply been the better team by far recently, making it hard not to back them to win again.
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