A push towards first and fourth
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
Where they stand
Kings XI Punjab: second, with 14 points after seven wins in nine games
Sunrisers Hyderabad: fifth, with eight points after four wins in nine games
Sunrisers' defeat to Mumbai Indians on Monday cost them the chance to break into the top four - the playoff club - by displacing Kolkata Knight Riders. They are now in the bottom half of the league and another loss will be debilitating to their campaign. A victory will keep them in contention for fourth place, but third remains out of reach for the moment.
Unless they suffer a startling reverse in form, Kings XI are set for a place in the top four. Their target, therefore, is no longer a playoff berth; it is a top-two finish, which will give them two cracks at making the IPL final. Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals are their closest rivals and a win against Sunrisers will keep Kings XI above everyone else.
Most teams have nine or ten spots in their first XI firmed up, and the tinkering Kings XI did in their previous game - playing Parvinder Awana against KKR - did not work. They will consider bringing back L Balaji, who has an excellent record against David Warner and Aaron Finch, for Awana. Opening batsman Mandeep Singh has not performed better than Cheteshwar Pujara did, so that's another chink that needs fixing. What does their retained player - Manan Vohra - need to do to get a game this season?
Sunrisers don't have much strength on their bench. Irfan Pathan was expensive in the previous game against Kings XI, and he's been wicketless in his last two matches. They might keep him, because replacement options are Ishant Sharma and Venugopal Rao. Offspinning allrounder Parvez Rasool has not been given a chance yet, but will Sunrisers punt on him in a crucial game?
Form guide(most recent first)
Sunrisers Hyderabad: LWWLW
Kings XI Punjab: LWWLW
Glenn Maxwell blitzed Sunrisers in the first match between these teams this season, in Sharjah, hitting nine sixes during his 43-ball 95. His pyrotechnics came after a sound start by the KXIP openers and set up a total of 190. It was 72 runs too many. Shikhar Dhawan, Aaron Finch and David Warner were dismissed inside five overs of the chase and KL Rahul was the only batsman to make it past 20. L Balaji claimed 4 for 13 as Sunrisers were dismissed for 121 in 19.2 overs.
Watch out for
Where will Maxwell bat? Kings XI have preferred to send in a buffer at No. 3 when they lose an early wicket, and not expose Maxwell too soon. Wriddhiman Saha has usually been the chosen one but this tactic has always hindered Kings XI's momentum. Saha has made only one significant contribution in that position and even during that half-century he was stagnant for the first half of his innings. It's probably time Kings XI trusted Maxwell to not get out early.
Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Virender Sehwag, Ajinkya Rahane, Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, M Vijay and Sanju Samson. The majority of these Indian batsmen have had middling seasons so far, but they all have more runs than the Sunrisers captain Shikhar Dhawan, who has 170 in nine innings at an average of 19 and strike rate of 114. He's been dismissed four times in the 30s and how far Sunrisers go will hinge on whether he can back up Finch and Warner.
Stats and trivia
- Maxwell hit 63 runs off 22 balls from legspinners Amit Mishra and Karn Sharma in the previous games between the sides in Sharjah
- L Balaji has bowled 25 balls at David Warner in the IPL and conceded only 27 runs while dismissing him three times. Balaji has conceded only six runs to Aaron finch in ten balls and dismissed him twice.
"You know, in this tournament, you need to bounce back. You need to pick yourself up and move forward. We are certainly aware that you are not going to have a perfect campaign, where you win every game, get into the finals and everyone is merry."
Sunrisers coach Tom Moody after the loss to Mumbai Indians
"A lot of Indians wouldn't have known about them but they have obviously seen something and their knowledge has been really important, one in selecting them and two, bringing the best out of them ."
Kings XI captain George Bailey on coach Sanjay Bangar's contribution to the campaign
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo