On a roll with successive wins, Sunrisers Hyderabad stand in the way of two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who would be looking to bring their campaign back on track at home during an Indian Premier League T20 match at Eden Gardens on Saturday. With two wins from two matches, SRH lead the table ahead of Chennai Super Kings on the net run rate. The home side, on the other hand, will be smarting from a heartbreak defeat against Chennai Super Kings despite posting a 200-plus total.
On paper, Kane Williamson-led SRH are one of the most balanced sides, boasting an experienced batting lineup and an equally effective bowling unit, a dream combination for any captain.
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But the visitors did not look too convincing in a modest chase against Mumbai Indians last night before pulling off a one-wicket victory off the last ball, a first in IPL history.
On a day when the bowlers lived up to their reputation by restricting MI to 147-8, SRH's experienced batsmen almost threw the match away as eventually it was the last wicket pair of Deepak Hooda and No 11 Billy Stanlake who scrambled home.
At 56 for no loss after Powerplay, SRH were cruising home but the likes of Wriddhiman Saha, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan and Manish Pandey who form the fulcrum of their batting got out in 27 runs to make the chase look so hard.
Leading 8-4 on the head-to-head count, KKR will fancy chances against a team who had lost by 17 runs the last time they clashed at Eden Gardens in the last edition.
That batting collapse will give KKR some ray of hope as they will look to use their bowling resources well this time.
Having failed to defend a tall 203, courtesy some tactical blunders and R Vinay Kumar's profligacy at the death, KKR would look to tighten their bowling attack and veteran pacer Mitchell Johnson is all set to return as indicated by bowling coach Heath Streak yesterday.
It also remains to be seen whether they run out of patience with Vinay Kumar who failed to defend 17 runs in the last over against CSK and was later trolled on social media.
The Karnataka veteran seamer has been at his unimpressive best and has the worst bowling record in their lineup in two matches conceding 65 runs from 3.5 overs at an economy of 16.95. Thankfully for KKR, the batting has clicked big time in Chennai where Andre Russell led the charge with an unbeaten 88 from 36 balls.
It will also be an emotional moment for Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan who was a part of KKR's success journey in winning two titles in 2012 and 2014 turning out from the opponent's dressing room at the Eden.
There's also Manish Pandey, the former KKR number three and IPL 2014 winner, and Bengal cricketer Wriddhiman Saha turning out for SRH this time as they will look to prove their worth in Orange colours.
The logo of SRH is on the left side and will be close to my heart. My focus will only be on how to win matches for my side and play some ruthless cricket, Pathan, who was an integral part of the Shah Rukh Khan's franchise for seven years, has said summing up the mood.
Shakib is also a smart pick as he along with Rashid Khan bowling in tandem will be a treat to the eyes.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (C/wk), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, R Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi and Tom Curran.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (C), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (WK), Sandeep Sharma, Shakib Al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Shreevats Goswami, Basil Thampi, T. Natarajan, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Sachin Baby, Tanmay Agarwal.
Match starts 2000 IST.
(With PTI Inputs)