Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders will now face in the eliminator and the winner of this match will face the loser of the Qualifier 1, who now is Gujarat Lions, to fight for a spot in the final of IPL 2016. These two teams qualifying for the Top 4 isn’t surprising, but what is really surprising is their position. Both the teams looked good for Top 2 and eventually none of these two made it there, thanks to their performance in the latter stage of the league stage.
Sunrisers Hyderabad has been a one-man show, pretty much, if not completely, when it comes to their batting. On the other hand, Kolkata Knight Riders have seen different players rising up to the occasion and winning it for them. When it comes to the bowling, both the teams boast a powerful bowling attack, capable of winning them matches.
The match will be played at Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi and this might well tilt the contest towards Kolkata KnightRiders. The pitch over here is expected to turn and thus favour the spinners. Sunrisers have a decent pace attack, though Nehra’s absence will decrease the threat; but they lack a quality spinner. Karn Sharma has been woeful and Sunrisers will bank on Yuvraj Singh to roll over his arm. Mustafizur’s slow cutter will grip the surface and thus it will be tougher than usual to face him in the death overs.
But a turning track is KKR’s territory. They are capable enough to field 4-5 spinners, all being quality ones; Narine, Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav & Shakib al Hasan, along with Yusuf Pathan can ask questions to any team. Not just this, they boast some world class batsman against spin, with the likes of Gambhir, Manish Pandey , Yusuf Pathan and co.
KKR looks a better side, at least in the given conditions and should win the eliminator against Sunrisers, unless David Warner does something extra-ordinary here. Dhawan has regained some of his lost touch and so has Yuvraj, but KKR seems to have all answers.
For fantasy, one must keep in mind that we won’t get to see 180s sort of pitch and thus one should try to have more slow ball bowlers and all-rounders, rather than having more batsman. KKR is expected to make some changes for this match, be it subject to Russell’s fitness or the need of the pitch. Sunrisers really doesn’t have much of an option.
Among batsman, Gautam Gambhir should be an automatic choice for this kind of pitch. If he can play out Bhuvi’s spell, it might turn out to be very tough for SRH to dismiss him in the middle overs. Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan, along with wicket-keeper batsman Robin Uthappa should cover for Kolkata KnightRiders’ batting. From SRH, David Warner is an automatic choice, and given Dhawan’s recent form, I will prefer to have him as well.
Among all-rounders, Moises Henriques should be picked, as he is expected to bowl 4 overs and bat at 5. Russell’s availability is subject to his fitness, and if you join a league which allows you to change the team after the toss, have Russell in your squad or else better don’t pick him. If you are picking Russell, better drop either Manish Pandey or Yusuf Pathan.
Among the bowlers, pick pacers who will bowl in the death or the spinners. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar & Mustafzur Rahaman are automatic choices. KKR dropped Chawla in their last league match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, mainly because of the number of left-handers in their line-up who could have hit him with the spin. Kuldeep Yadav was picked ahead of him and it proved to be a pretty good decision. So, I would prefer to pick Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav as two other bowlers.
Yuvraj Singh doesn’t fit in my 11, given his struggle against spin and especially Narine, something which Gambhir tried to exploit in the previous match. Maybe, KKR might as well drop Kuldeep Yadav but it looks very unlikely and if they do, there’s no shame in calling them dumbs.
Only another change I may think of is having Shakib in place of Kuldeep, given he will bowl on this turner and may well get a chance to bat. But his form of late just tempted me to have him away from the 11.
Best of luck to all those who will be trying out their luck !!
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