The first match of Saturday’s (April 22) doubleheader will witness Rising Pune Supergiant squaring off against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad at Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune.
Both the teams are coming off wins from their previous encounters but while one is well-placed in the upper half of the table, the other is languishing at the second-last position. The Sunrisers are currently third in the table with 4 wins from 6 matches while the Supergiant are at the seventh position after managing just a couple of wins in the first five matches.
With the tournament now entering its business phase, every points matter and the teams will be fighting it out hard to make it to the playoffs. So before these two teams lock horns in Pune, we are taking a look at their current form, the positive points, the probable lineups and the prediction.
Steve Smith’s men got back to winnings ways with an emphatic 27-run victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was only their second win in five matches. They began their season with an impressive win over Mumbai Indians but three losses on the trot threatened to derail their campaign before they defeated Virat Kohli’s side. The win was a much-needed one and the way, the Pune-based outfit comfortably defended 161 against a star-studded batting lineup, it will do a world of good to the players.
On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad have been an inconsistent form so far. The reigning champions began their season with two wins before losing their next two games. However, they brought their campaign on track by beating Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab in their next two and would be keen to continue the winning streak in the upcoming match.
View on think tank:
The bowling was looking weak in the initial matches but the performance against Bangalore will be enough to instil confidence in the team. However, the form of the middle-order batsmen will be a major concern for the team management. The likes of Steve Smith, MS Dhoni got the starts in the previous match but failed to build a big score. The form of the openers have not been very encouraging either.
In the last match, they managed to post 191 against Delhi Daredevils with the help of the fifties for Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson but overall their batting department is not looking in good form either. Against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, they managed only 155 for 6 while chasing 172 while they were restricted to 159 for 6 at home by Kings XI Punjab. The form of the middle-order will be a huge concern for the defending champions.
Tracking the strength:
Ben Stokes’ performance against Royal Challengers Bangalore will boost the morale of the team. The England all-rounder, who was the costliest player in this year’s players auction, was adjudged the Man of the Match for taking 3 wickets for 18 runs in 4 overs. Shardul Thakur’s performance in the same match will also be a big positive for the home team. The Mumbai pacer took 3 wickets for 35 runs in his 4 overs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s red-hot form is undoubtedly their biggest strength. The India pacer’s brilliant death over bowling has played a massive role in the last two wins. He is also the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 15 wickets to his name.
Possibility in the lineup:
They are unlikely to tinker with the team that won the game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The only possibility of a change is that Rajat Bhatia may find a place in the playing eleven instead of Jaydev Unadkat. The Pune pitch has assisted the slow bowlers so far and Bhatia might get the nod. Moreover, the presence of the Dan Christian in the playing eleven might convince the team management to drop one pacer to include Bhatia. Adam Zampa, who had taken 6 wickets for 19 runs against the defending champions last year, can also play the game.
The visiting team had included Kane Williamson in their playing in place of Mohammad Nabi for the last game and the move paid dividends immediately as the New Zealand skipper scored 89. So, they are also likely to persist with the same team that beat Delhi Daredevils.
Rising Pune Supergiants and Sunrisers Hyderabad have played 2 matches so far and have won a game each.
Both the matches that have been played at Pune so far have been high-scoring affairs and another run feast is likely to take place. The team batting first is likely to score above 180. The team batting second has a good chance of winning the game.
Sunrisers Hyderabad will go into this match as the favourites and are expected to walk away with all the two points.