It is the business-end of the Vivo IPL 2019 and with the overseas players scheduled to leave in order to join their respective national teams for World Cup commitments from next week, the franchises should be doubly keen to make optimum use of their availability in the next few games.
In this context, Sunrisers Hyderabad tops the list when it takes on Kolkata Knight Riders in a high-voltage contest at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday,
Dinesh Karthik-led Knight Riders badly needs a win here against the home team which has regained the confidence after an impressive win against Chennai Super Kings (minus injured M.S. Dhoni).
But, what should be a real concern for Karthik is that the top three — Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa — should fire ahead of the classy Rana and the big-hitting Russel who were involved in a gallant chase in vain against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the previous game.
KKR is banking too heavily on Russel who is also battling discomfort in his left wrist. He failed in only one innings in this edition and even in a T20 game, it is too much to ask one player to come good every time. An exciting contest should be on between Russel and leg-spinner Rashid Khan.
The other worry for Karthik can be the way wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav was hit all over in the previous game.
Onus on bowlers
If KKR were to make serious amends, the onus is on the bowlers against a line-up which has some explosive batsmen at the top like this edition’s leading scorer David Warner and the consistent Jonny Bairstow.
SRH badly needs Williamson to come good at No. 3 should the law of averages catch up with the opening pair.
In bowling, SRH has the depth and variety and, more importantly, got back the confidence after the early disappointments in this edition.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (capt), Basil Thampi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, T Natarajan, Ricky Bhui, Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul, Shreevats Goswami, Khaleel Ahmed, Yusuf Pathan, Billy Stanlake, David Warner, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi, Shakib Al Hasan, Jonny Bairstow, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Vijay Shankar, Abhishek Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Match starts 4 PM.