Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will have their task cut out against an inconsistent Sunrisers Hyderabad for a place in the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) second qualifier at the Ferozeshah Kotla stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Having won both their league games against the David Warner-led side, KKR will definitely go into the match with the upper hand, despite finishing one notch below them on fourth in the points table due to an inferior run-rate.
The Shah Rukh Khan-owned side defeated Sunrisers by eight wickets in their first meeting this season and came out victorious by 22 runs in a must-win match on Sunday to qualify for the play-offs.
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Going into Wednesday’s clash, KKR will once again bank on a good start from the tested duo of skipper Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. Both Gambhir and Uthappa would have in their mind the national selectors’ snub for the upcoming tours of Zimbabwe and the West Indies despite being amongst the runs in this edition.
While Gambhir has amassed 473 runs from 14 games with five half-centuries, Uthappa has got 383 runs under his belt so far from as many outings. Besides the duo another India discard Yusuf Pathan, who has been in good nick, will also aim to make a mark.
The middle order boasts of young right-hander Manish Pandey and the troika of all-rounders in West Indian Andre Russell, New Zealander Colin Munroe and Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan.
With chinaman Kuldeep Yadav coming to the party in the previous match, KKR will be spoilt for choice in the bowling department which includes leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, pacers Jason Holder, Morne Morkel, Ankit Rajpoot and Umesh Yadav in their ranks.
On the other hand, the Sunrisers are still to cope with the loss of veteran Ashish Nehra who was ruled out of the remainder of the tournament following a hamstring injury.
While their pace bowling has been the talk of the season, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mustafizur Rahman, Barinder Sran, the spin department, led by leg-spinner Karn Sharma, has been a disappointment.
The batting revolves around skipper David Warner, his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan and stumper Naman Ojha.
Veteran Yuvraj Singh has contributed in bits and pieces as has Australian all-rounder Moises Henriques.
New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, Englishman Eoin Morgan and youngster Deepak Hooda, who form the middle order, must contribute if the Sunrisers fancy a chance to beat the Knight Riders.