Will Sunrisers continue to surprise?
Match factsApril 14, 2013
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
Sunrisers Hyderabad have been the surprise team of the tournament so far. Widely expected to be one of the whipping boys, they have begun with three wins out of four matches, mainly due to their exceptional bowling spearheaded by the best bowler in the world, Dale Steyn. The batting is clearly the weaker link in the side, but with the bowlers limiting the opposition to smallish totals in most games so far, that chink hasn't been exploited much yet. On Friday, the bowlers chipped in with the bat as well, as Amit Mishra and Steyn kept their head to successfully complete a tense chase.
While a share of the top spot will be a huge boost for the Sunrisers, there is still a long way to go in the tournament. Last season's cellar-dwellers, Pune Warriors, also began with three wins in their first four matches, but soon after they embarked on a 11-match losing streak which they only snapped earlier this week.
While the West Indies captain, allrounder Darren Sammy, is flying in for Sunrisers, whether he'll be ready in time for this game is uncertain. Sammy had missed the start of the tournament for the birth of his child. He tweeted in the early hours of Sunday that he was on his way: "Two more flights to @SunRisers. #IPL6 soon begin for me.. Can't wait."
Sunrisers are up against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders, who have made an indifferent start. They began well enough, with their trump card Sunil Narine bamboozling Delhi Daredevils, but were then undone on a pacy pitch in Jaipur. They could do little to change the result in their third match as Chris Gayle, as he has so many times at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, led a demolition job.
With opener Manvinder Bisla getting single-digit scores in each of the three matches so far, Knight Riders will be toying with the idea of bringing in Brendon McCullum at the top of the order, perhaps in place of England batsman Eoin Morgan.
Players to watchThisara Perera is the only game-changing overseas allrounder currently with the Sunrisers, and vital to the balance of the side. Capable of bowling a full quota of overs, and providing some much-needed humpty towards the end of the innings, Perera has a big role to play. He will want to make amends after holing out taking on the man at long-on when he was the only recognised batsman in the middle and with a run-a-ball needed in a tight chase against Daredevils.
L Balaji was one of the outstanding bowlers for Knight Riders in the previous season. "Bala is the unsung hero, he's been brilliant all through," Gautam Gambhir had said after last year's final, saying that they won the title for Balaji. Narine may have hogged the headlines through the tournament, but Balaji's miserly economy-rate of 5.40 was also critical to Knight Riders' campaign. They will want him to replicate that form as they look to get their season back on track.
Stats and trivia
- Narine might only be starting his second season for Knight Riders, but he's already the franchise's highest wicket-taker with 36.
- Yusuf Pathan scored at a strike-rate of 161.24 for Rajasthan Royals, but his scoring-rate with Knight Riders is only 125.85.
- Steyn has not only taken plenty of wickets this season, he has been extremely difficult to score off as well. His economy-rate of 4.73 is best of the tournament (min five overs).
"Throughout the IPL I will pick his brain and see what I can get off from him."
Dale Steyn wants to learn as much as he can from Pakistan great Waqar Younis during the IPL
"Lots of games are at home, the next game is at home and hopefully we can turn it around as we did last time around."
Gautam Gambhir, Knight Riders captain
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo