Kolkata Knight Riders v Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2016, Eliminator, Delhi May 24, 2016

Russell's return gives KKR the edge in eliminator

Match facts

Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)

Play 04:13
Cullinan: Time for Sunrisers' middle to back up Warner

Big Picture

Sunrisers Hyderabad had the top spot in the points table with two games left. Kolkata Knight Riders were behind them. One bad game was enough to turn the tables, with both sides losing an opportunity to have a second crack at the final. After being comprehensively beaten by Knight Riders on a rank turner in Kolkata, Sunrisers will be hoping for a turn in fortunes in the eliminator, on what is expected to be another slow Feroz Shah Kotla surface.

Sunrisers' fielding lapses consigned them to a last-ball loss against Delhi Daredevils before they lost to Knight Riders. Knight Riders were thumped by six wickets on a green surface by Gujarat Lions in Kanpur, but banked on home advantage to win their final game and finish fourth.

Knight Riders could be buoyed by the return of their MVP, nay T20's MVP, Andre Russell, who missed the last two games because of a leg injury. He could be rusty, though, and a tad worn out as a part of the Knight Riders squad arrived in Delhi by road from Jaipur on Tuesday morning, after their flight had to be diverted because of bad weather. Having already won the Bangladesh Premier League, Pakistan Super League, Big Bash League and World T20, Russell has an opportunity to lay his hands on a fifth T20 title in six months.

But to say Knight Riders are only about Russell would be misleading. In his absence, the middle order had mixed power with smarts. Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey used an off-stump guard to hit against the spin of Karn Sharma and the cutters of Mustafizur Rahman in Kolkata. The Knight Riders spinners then left Sunrisers' weak middle order in a straightjacket, after David Warner had a rare failure. If Warner fails again in the eliminator, can the middle order find an escape route?

Form guide

Sunrisers Hyderabad LLWLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders WLWWL

In the spotlight

Sunil Narine may have been subdued over the last month or so, but is peaking at the business end of the competition for Knight Riders. He dismissed Royal Challengers' Chris Gayle with a skidder, while the ball he bowled to dismiss Gujarat Lions' Brendon McCullum - a seam-up inswinger - showed that variations are still a part of his repertoire, even with a remodelled action. Narine's 3 for 26 on Sunday against Sunrisers was his best figures this season.

Yuvraj Singh will be playing his first IPL knockout game since the semi-final in 2008. Apart from two cameos - his 42 not out off 24 balls against Kings XI Punjab has been his biggest contribution - he is yet to strike big.

Team news

Kane Williamson has managed only 124 runs in six matches at a strike rate of just a shade over 100. Eoin Morgan's strike rate of 117.14 in seven games isn't inspiring either. Deepak's Hooda's patchy form has exposed the middle order further. Sunrisers, however, are likely to persist with the same batting line-up. There could be a change on the bowling front, though, with legspinner Karn Sharma likely to make way for way for seam-bowling allrounder Ashish Reddy or left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (probable): 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Kane Williamson/Eoin Morgan, 4 Deepak Hooda, 5 Yuvraj Singh, 6 Naman Ojha (wk), 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Barinder Sran, 10 Karn Sharma/Ashish Reddy/Bipul Sharma, 11 Mustafizur Rahman

Russell is likely to replace his West Indies team-mate Jason Holder, while Morne Morkel may return in place of Colin Munro. Knight Riders are also likely to persist with left-arm wristspinner Kuldeep Yadav over legspinner Piyush Chawla.

Kolkata Knight Riders (probable): 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Robin Uthappa (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/Piyush Chawla, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Ankit Rajpoot

Pitch and conditions

The Feroz Shah Kotla surface has traditionally offered grip and turn for the slow bowlers. Three of five games at this venue have been won by the side batting first. But with Raipur hosting the last leg of Delhi Daredevils' home games, a fresh surface could offer better value for the batsmen.

Wednesday is expected to be a warm day, with chances of showers in the afternoon.

Stats and trivia

  • Sunrisers have the lowest economy rate in the Powerplay - 6.73. Knight Riders' 7.41 is the second lowest
  • Russell is the leading wicket-taker in T20s in 2016 with 49 wickets in 35 matches. Mustafizur is fourth on the list with 32 wickets in 22 matches

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo