Faltering Sunrisers look for lift
Thursday, May 8, 2014
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Last season, consistency was one of the characteristics that defined Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad - their scrappy, minimal-fuss brand of cricket making them popular with fans. This season, however, while Royals have hit on a winning patch and surged to the top half of the table, Sunrisers, despite big additions to their batting, are faltering lower down.
In Sunrisers last game, AB de Villiers played the kind of innings few teams could have done anything about, but their two victories have shown how critical it is for their top order to fire. Perhaps the best example was their victory against Delhi Daredevils in the UAE, where Aaron Finch and Shikhar Dhawan added 56, the best opening stand for the side so far - which set the base for a score of 184. Compare that to their losses in which their highest total has been 155.
Like their batting, the Sunrisers bowling also relies heavily on two individuals - Amit Mishra and Dale Steyn. While Steyn will have recovered from the mauling by de Villiers, Sunrisers could bring back Mishra on a track that can be expected to be a little slower.
Royals settled into their new home ground with a win and they would like to keep that form going. They don't have a stellar away record in the IPL and with their next fixtures against Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings, a win here could give them a buffer.
Form guide (most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals: WWWWL Sunrisers Hyderabad: LWLWL
Where they stand
Rajasthan Royals: 3rd, with 10 points from seven games
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 7th, with 4 points from six games
The teams opened their IPL 2014 campaigns against each other, with Royals huffing their way to a four-wicket win in the last over in Dubai. Shikhar Dhawan and David Warner got starts but Sunrisers were restricted to 133. The Royals reply, meanwhile, revolved solely around a fifty from Ajinkya Rahane and an unbeaten 48 from Stuart Binny, who rescued the chase from a position of 31 for 3.
Watch out for
Karun Nair played a valuable hand in Karnataka's Ranji Trophy title win this season and he seems to have found his feet for Royals too. He takes his time at the start, but once settled he has been unafraid to switch gears, even going after the faster bowlers in the opposition.
Batting at positions between No. 5 and 7, Darren Sammy has come in quite often with Sunrisers stuck in a rut. As the most important batsman in the lower order, his form has denied Sunrisers a final push, putting even more pressure on the top order.
Stats and trivia
- Royals are the most successful IPL team batting second, having won 33 of 51 games chasing
- David Warner needs 88 runs to become the fifth batsman to reach 5000 T20 runs
"I just try to pick the best batsman in the team, preferably the one that generally bats at the death and is used to facing yorkers, slower ones and slower bouncers. I try and pair up with him when I can."
James Faulkner gives an insight into his death-bowling preparations.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo