Saturday, May 24, 2014
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Sunrisers Hyderabad have a laundry list of odds to beat if they are to clinch the final playoff spot. A dismal net run-rate of -0.231 puts them well behind their contenders, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals. They travel to Eden Gardens, one of the largest stadiums in the country, which has routinely and vociferously been behind Kolkata Knight Riders, who have won their last six games quite convincingly. Gautam Gambhir's men are in sight of their their longest winning streak and a spot in the top-two on the points table.
Three of the strongest hitters in T20s wear the Sunrisers orange. However, only David Warner has bolstered his threat with performance on the field. Aaron Finch and Darren Sammy haven't yet caused the damage they are capable of. With the backbone buckling and their limited Indian talent taking too long to hit their stride, the Sunrisers bowlers needed to pick up the slack once again. Only they couldn't. Sunrisers claimed 100 wickets in 17 matches last season at an average of 23.03, but in 13 matches this year their tally is 64 at 31.78.
A upturn in form since the IPL returned to India and Robin Uthappa's remarkable consistency at the top of the order has put Knight Riders through to the playoffs. They are now in contention to displace Chennai Super Kings, with whom they are level on 16 points, from the No.2 spot.
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWWW (completed games, most recent first)
Sunrisers Hyderabad: WWLLL
Where they stand
Kolkata Knight Riders: Third place, with 16 points from 13 games
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Sixth, with 12 points from 13 games
The Sunrisers think-tank had picked the top-order's inability to push on as their major drawback this season and this game was another example. David Warner lasted 18 balls and his 34 was the top score as Umesh Yadav's three wickets helped Knight Riders limit Sunrisers to 142. A string of 30s and a 40 from Uthappa took the visitors to victory by seven wickets.
Watch out for
David Warner has been shuttled up and down the order but his performance has not been affected. He has the most fifties in the tournament so far - the first came at No.3, the next three at No.4 and the last two while opening the batting. His 90 off 45 against Chennai Super Kings might well have ended his musical chairs up and down the order.
At the other end is Sunil Narine, whose mechanical consistency - 20 wickets at an economy rate of six - is the major reason for Knight Riders' confidence in their bowling. The battle between the two could well decide the result of the game.
Stats and trivia
- Gautam Gambhir is the only batsman to have scored a half century in the three IPL games played between Knight Riders and Sunrisers
- Sunrisers won four out of six times when they posted a total below 150 in 2013. This year, they have managed only one win in four tries
"We knew that we have the bowling attack to defend anything. But to chase has been my personal decision as lot of people have been tagging us as chokers and I wanted to rid of it."
Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir on their recent strategy of batting second.
"I wanted to applaud every shot he played because he was batting magnificently"
Sunrisers Hyderabad's Shikhar Dhawan has become one of David Warner's fans
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo