From their 15 matches, the Gujarat Lions batsmen have aggregated a staggering 2161 runs. On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad has a bag of 77 wickets. Does that make it a battle between Lions batsmen and Sunrisers bowlers? If they play to their strengths, this statistic will suggest the nature of Qualifier-2 at the Ferozeshah Kotla tonight. One can expect a combat of skills.
With a place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final beckoning, the penultimate fixture of the competition shall test the temperament and cricketing acumen of some of the best players in the format.
Form Guide (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Gujarat Lions LWWLW
Sunrisers Hyderabad WLLWL
Sunrisers have had the better of Lions in the round-robin phase, winning both matches, and the feel-good factor is with them after they brushed aside Kolkata Knight Riders but Gujarat Lions have been a consistent performer throughout the tournament despite losing to RCB in the first qualifier.
So, how both the teams look like ahead of this thrilling fixture? Who will be the winner? Really a million dollar question. Let’s take a look at the key individual battles and rate the players who will set the stadium on fire.
Brendon McCullum vs Brainder Sran:
McCullum has been decent in this year’s IPL has well with 322 runs from 15 matches. If some thought that the former New Zealand captain would go easy now that he won’t be playing international cricket any more, he showed when it comes to thrashing the ball over the boundary, there are few parallels in the sport. If Brendon manages to stick around for around 10 overs, there is no doubt that the Lions will end up posting a big total or be well on track with chasing down a total. Brainder Sran, on the other hand, can bowl to a field at the same time leak runs. This will be an important clash in the game. Sran has his back against the wall here but his 14 wickets from 12 matches with 26.46 average shows he has the credibility to remain in the hunt.
Brendon McCullum (Gujarat Lions) – 7/10
Brainder Sran (Sunrisers Hyderabad) – 6/10
Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Dwayne Smith:
It will forever linger in the minds of some of the fans of the slam-bam fests as to why Smith didn’t play in the World T20 which West Indies won recently. The all-rounder has been top notch for the Lions this season with 323 runs from 11 matches at a strike rate of 148.16. If Smith has a poor match, it may well go on to dent the chances of the side completely. Such has been the influence of the mighty Smith. Smith missed out on his side’ home match against SRH, and facing Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a slippery slope for many. The Orange Cap holder with 21 wickets has been exceptional so far and even picked up a four-for against Gujarat Lions.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad) – 9/10
Dwayne Smith (Gujarat Lions) – 7/10
Mustafizur Rahman vs Suresh Raina:
Suresh Raina had scores of 24 and 0 in last year’s playoffs. It is surprising, considering how good Raina has been from the inception of the Mega Event. If Mustafizur Rahman who has so far bagged 16 wickets, plays the IPL consistently, it won’t be far-fetched to suggest that the Bangladeshi would go on to become the bowling equivalent of Raina. Raina, unlike McCullum and Smith, is not just about brute force alone. The Lions skipper is someone who will try to weather the storm if he sees the fall of two early wickets. Raina though has struggled with left-arm bowlers through his career.
Mustafizur Rahman (Sunrisers Hyderabad) – 8/10
Suresh Raina (Gujarat Lions) – 7.5/10
David Warner vs Dhawal Kulkarni:
David Warner will be up against Dhawal Kulkarni. It remains to be seen how Suresh Raina uses his frontline bowler, who has been a revelation in IPL 2016 with 18 wickets at an outstanding average of 10.00. If Dhawal can pitch the ball around a good length area and get some seam movement away from Warner, he has a good chance to win the battle. This clash may well set the tone for the rest of the contest. With 686 runs Warner has been one of the standout players of this edition and his records have only been dwarfed by the Bradman-esque displays of Virat Kohli.
David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad) – 8/10
Dhawal Kulkarni (Gujarat Lions) – 8.5/10
Yuvraj Singh vs Dwayne Bravo:
With 190 runs from 8 matches, Yuvraj Singh has peaked at just about the right time for SRH. His breezy knock was crucial in his team winning the first qualifier. Once again, the southpaw is expected to be called upon to show his big-hitting prowess at the death overs. In Dwayne Bravo, he faces one of the most clever bowlers in the business during the aforementioned phase of an innings. Bravo’s change of pace can go either way; there are days where the West Indian has been clobbered. However, in this format and specifically this tournament, it is a feat that very few batsmen have managed to do.
Yuvraj Singh (Sunrisers Hyderabad) – 6.5/10
Dwayne Bravo (Gujarat Lions) – 7/10
Stats in focus
Gujarat Lions have won eight out of 10 matches while chasing, but just one out of five matches when batting first.
Mustafizur Rahman has the best economy rate (7.28) in the end overs (overs 16-20), among all bowlers who have bowled at least six overs during this period
So, be it the ratings or the stats, both the teams look evenly matched. But the Lions look slightly ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad.