Insane bowling. Inept batting. Sunrisers Hyderabad have decided to be that kid in class who knows pi to the 100th decimal, but blanks so badly when asked about something like social media that they file a complaint against the English professor for not teaching them Instagrammar.
Manish Pandey for example, has 88 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of 118. Meanwhile, the man he has kept out of the Indian XI in limited-overs cricket began the IPL with a 14-ball fifty; KL Rahul's form has gone a long way to ensuring Kings XI are an all-round threat. R Ashwin's captaincy has been a big plus as well, forcing opposition batsmen to tackle their weaknesses while his own sits pretty atop the sixes chart (ahead of Wednesday's game).
With Tom Moody at the helm, Sunrisers don't lack for tactical resources. And Kane Williamson has loads of practice leading a side whose stronger suit is its bowling and which also relies rather heavily on him to score runs (and scoring them is what he has been doing so far this tournament). Things could get pretty funky on Thursday when these two teams meet.
In the news
Chris Gayle missed Kings XI's previous game on Monday with some soreness. Will he be good to go on Thursday?
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is also nursing an injury. He was asked to stay back in Hyderabad instead of playing against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday so that he has a better chance of recovery.
The likely XIs
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Kane Williamson (capt), 3 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Sandeep Sharma, 10 Siddarth Kaul, 11 Basil Thampi
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Chris Gayle/Aaron Finch, 2 KL Rahul (wk), 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 David Miller/Marcus Stoinis, 5 Karun Nair, 6 Yuvraj Singh/Manoj Tiwary, 7 R Ashwin (capt), 8 Andrew Tye, 9 Barinder Sran, 10 Ankit Rajpoot, 11 Mujeeb ur Rahman
What happened in the previous contest
Rashid was taken apart by Gayle, who scored his sixth IPL century. Correction: a sixth, match-winning IPL century, as Kings XI defended 193 with ease.
Andrew Tye is Kings XI's premier death bowler, with an economy rate of 7.3. But there may be reason to try him with the new ball: the Australian quick has dismissed Williamson two times in nine balls in T20 cricket, giving away only six runs.
In T20s, Sandeep Sharma has dismissed Chris Gayle four times in 47 balls, giving away only 55 runs.
Stats that matter
If Williamson can hold Tye off, his team has a good chance of cashing in at the end. All the other Kings XI bowlers combined have an economy rate of 12.1 between overs 16 and 20.
Finishing is an area Sunrisers' batsmen definitely need to improve; as things stand they have the highest dot-ball percentage (40.4) at the death.
Rahul needs 39 runs to complete 1000 in the IPL.
As of April 23, Kings XI have been burying teams under Smart Runs. As per ESPNcricinfo's new metrics to make sense of the shortest format, Gayle and Rahul have so far contributed an extra 80 runs to the team's aggregate.
Aaron Finch might not be the best asset against Sunrisers: he's made only 33 runs in 37 balls against Bhuvneshwar, while being dismissed twice, and 15 runs off eight balls against Rashid Khan, while being dismissed twice.
Barring the usual suspects - Gayle, Rahul, Shakib, Rashid and Williamson - keep an eye on Siddarth Kaul. He has bowled 11 overs between 7 and 14 for an economy rate of 6.7, and nine overs between 16 and 20 for an economy rate of 6.8.