The first eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders promises to be no less than a thriller. There are plenty of reasons for this assumption. First of all, it’s going to be defending champions versus a desperate side. Both the sides are equally strong if not better that each other. They almost have the same sort of strengths and weakness. And, lastly, both teams, who are led two of the most aggressive men in the IPL, would hate to lose.
Ironically one team will definitely get kicked out. And, that is what the will motivate the two sides to punch above their weight and ensure they don’t commit the silly errors that which they did in the league stages. A victory, obviously, keeps their journey alive and takes them one step close to the finals as they will face the loser of the Qualifier 1. The losing team has no option but to pack their bags and leave the contest.
The final parts of the league was a messed up one for both the teams. But, thankfully, the hard work shown at the initial stages helped them greatly. Both the teams, who looked strong enough to finish in the top two of the points table, could have got virtually knocked out but they survived.
Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Daredevils, both placed their contendership and acted as the major challenger to SRH and KKR’s place before things fell in line for the latter two teams. SRH finished third on the points table by virtue of the 8 win and 5 losses which got them 17 points in all whereas KKR narrowly edged out KXIP with 8 wins in 14 games which totalled to 16 points.
Tracking the strengths:
David Warner will be SRH’s biggest strength. He isn’t someone who gets bogged down by high-pressure matches and has shown the ability to steer his team to victory almost on his own. His form has been fabulous. With 604 runs in 14 matches, he leads the orange cap race by a huge, huge margin.
His habit of rising up to his best when the teams need him was on display during the must-win game against Gujarat Lions in which he scored an unbeaten 69 and played the central role in the taking his team safely into the playoffs. The SRH skipper alone stands as the biggest threat to the opposition.
This season, KKR hasn’t really had any particular strength or weakness to point out. It has all been a collective effort from both the departments. But, it would be safe to call batting as the plus point for KKR.
The key factors could be Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn. The duo is extremely attacking and can ensure a blazing start. Narine’s effectiveness with the bat might look sceptical but Lynn can guarantee success to a great extent.
Gautam Gambhir is in great form as usual. He currently sits at the third position in the highest run getters list with 454 runs in 14 games. Uthappa will also be waiting to get going after registering two single digit scores in the last two games.
The middle order can be called as functional but not shown a great capability to finish the matches under pressure, especially during chases. This can be a huge drawback if the quality SRH bowlers deliver early blows.
It will be SRH’s bowling versus KKR’s batting. If SRH’s bowlers do the magic and restrict KKR to a sub-par score, then expect Warner and Co. to finish off the match without much trouble. The Orange Army knows the tricks of chasing down the targets under most circumstances.
KKR, on the other hand, can take advantage of SRH’s over dependence on Warner. A failure from Warner, especially if batting first can cause a huge dent SRH’s chances and make KKR favourites. To conclude, while it is tough to pick one winner out of the two but it can be a safe bet to regard SRH as the favourites. SRH have shown better performances under pressure which can be a huge plus point and gives them the edge over their opposition.