Form and head-to-head record matter little when teams clash in the early games of an Indian Premier League (IPL) edition. The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will go into the game against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on September 26 believing they have the edge over their rivals. Both sides might lack big names from the national squad but the contest is bound to be interesting.
Same beginning, contrasting mood
Both the teams started the new season with a loss but the mood leading up to tonight’s game will be different in both the camps. The two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders were completely outplayed by the Mumbai Indians in their first game. The Sunrisers, on the other hand, dominated the proceedings for the most part but then gifted away the match to the Royal Challengers Bangalore after Jonny Bairstow’s dismissal.
Attacking middle-order vs best death bowlers
While KKR’s formidable middle order failed to live up to its billing in the first match, SRH, too, maybe a touch worried as their biggest weapons Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar drew a blank in the eight overs they bowled between them— yes, lightning did strike twice.
If there is one side that can claim to have got the measure of big-hitter Andre Russell, they are Sunrisers Hyderabad against whom the Jamaican averages below 15. Russell’s battle with Rashid Khan could be a fierce one. The Afghan leg-spinner has dismissed him thrice in 25 deliveries in IPL but Khan must also be aware of Russell’s phenomenal strike rate of 184 against him.
When KKR explodes, SRH hibernates
Batting at the death can have a bearing on the outcome. The KKR are a unique team, scoring 11 an over at the death since IPL 2019 while the SRH averages around 9.4 runs, the slowest of all.
Overseas winners and domestic talent
Both teams rely heavily on overseas superstars and share the same concerns over under-performing Indian players. Can KKR’s Shubman Gill and Shivam Mavi and Priyam Garg and Abhishek Sharma from SRH emerge as match-winners? They can start today.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill, Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Andre Russell, Nikhil Naik, Pat Cummins, Kuldeep Yadav, Shivam Mavi, Sandeep Warrier
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Jonny Bairstow (wk), David Warner (capt), Manish Pandey, Priyam Garg, Mohammad Nabi, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan
(Vimal Kumar is a senior sports journalist who has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. Vimal is also the author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide.)Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here