Kane Williamson's Sunrisers Hyderabad and KL Rahul's Punjab Kings will both be very keen to kick off from the bottom of the table and finally get their season properly going. Who'll make headway today?
You'll find ball-by-ball commentary here in English, and here in Hindi. If you're in the USA, you can watch today's game on ESPN+ in English, as well as in Hindi.
Holder 47* off 29 but Kings win by five runs9.35pm
Holder hit another six off Shami in the 18th over but Arshdeep bowled an excellent penultimate over, conceding just four and sending back Rashid Khan. That left 17 required from the final over with Bhuvneshwar on strike and Ellis with the ball in hand. They ran a bye on the first ball and it was left to Holder. He dispatched the second ball for a six but a wide slower one and a superb yorker made it ten needed from two. A wide followed and brace followed. With six required from the final ball for a Super Over, Ellis bowled a low full toss, Holder swung at it but couldn't get the timing right. And it fell near the mid-on area. Kings, who had lost the last game from a winning position, here defended 125, the lowest total successfully defended in Sharjah in the IPL.
Holder revives the chase9.15pm
It was Holder with the ball. And now it's Holder with the bat. With the required rate going over ten, someone needed to take an initiative. Saha was set but wasn't able to find the boundary. So, Holder took the matters in his own hands. He started by smashing Ravi Bishnoi for a straight six. In the next over, he launched debutant Nathan Ellis for back-to-back sixes and brought the equation down to 35 needed from four overs.
Saha was run out on the first ball of the 17th over, in which Arshdeep conceded just five. Sunrisers now need 30 from three overs. Holder and Rashid at the crease.
Sunrisers in real trouble8.55pm
It has not been the typical Sharjah wicket of the last year. The ball is gripping and turning. It's not coming on to the bat, and as a result, the runs have been difficult to come. Sunrisers are going at 4.50. And now they have lost Kedar Jadhav. Bishnoi the bowler once again, getting batter to chop on. With 66 needed from 43 balls, Abdul Samad looks to clear the straight boundary against Bishnoi. But all he manages is a thick outside edge and Gayle takes a dolly at short third man. Sunrisers 60 for 5 after 13 overs. They need another 66 from seven. Saha is batting on 26 off 32. Holder is the new batter in. Can they tee off?
Sunrisers 20 for 2 after six8.30pm
This is Sunrisers Hyderabad's lowest powerplay total ever. And Ravi Bishnoi had made it worse by castling Manish Pandey. Sunrisers 32 for 3 after eight overs. It's almost even-steven now.
Shami brings Kings back in the game8.15pm
Defending 125, you need wickets at the top. And Mohammed Shami has just done that for Kings. With an upright seam and a Test match length. In his opening over, he had Warner chasing a wide one only to edge it to Rahul. In his next over, he got one to nip back off the seam. Kane Williamson tried to push at it but got an inside edge that clattered into the leg stump. If there were two wickets Kings needed early, those were these two. While our Forecaster still gives Sunrisers a 70% chance of winning the game, Shami has surely given Kings hope.
Sunrisers 10/2 after three.
Kings finished with 125 for 77.40pm
A much-improved performance from the Sunrisers bowlers, led by Jason Holder. Rashid Khan says it's a 140-145 pitch, so they have done really well to restrict Kings to 125 for 7. Rashid was economical apart from picking up Chris Gayle's wicket but the star with the ball was Jason Holder, who varied his pace well and removed both KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal inside the powerplay. Later, he returned to dismiss a dangerous-looking Deepak Hooda to finish with figures of 3 for 19. Kings could reach where they did thanks to a 14-run final over.
Brathwaite: Losing pace has hurt Bhuvneshwar Kumar7.15pm
There was a phase when Bhuvneshwar Kumar was a prolific wicket-taker for the Sunrisers but over the last three seasons, his strike rate has dropped drastically. This season, his economy rate has also suffered. He has been going for more than nine an over; earlier, in none of the seasons, he went for more than eight. Carlos Brathwaite thinks losing pace has a role to play in that.
Rashid aces match-up against Gayle7.05pm
Before this match, Chris Gayle had scored 106 runs off 65 balls against Rashid Khan. At a strike rate of 163.07. No one does that to Rashid. In fact, Gayle is the only batter in this Kings line-up to have a positive match-up against him.
But here Rashid nailed his match-up. Today, he bowled four balls to him, conceded two runs and trapped him lbw. Gayle thought it was a googly but it turned out to be a legbreak and he ended up playing down the wrong line. Gayle opted for the review but as soon as the first replay came up, he started walking towards the dressing room.
Nicholas Pooran smashed Sandeep for a six over deep midwicket but the bowler took the pace off on the next ball. Pooran was early into the shot and ended up hitting hard but straight back towards the bowler, who pouched it on the second attempt.
Kings 67/4 after 12.
Holder snares openers6.25pm
It wasn't a usual KL Rahul innings. He struggled to middle the ball throughout his stay. Got a couple of streaky boundaries via outside edges. He did scoop one nicely to the fine-leg fence, but the overall timing wasn't really there.
Holder came on in the fifth over and struck straightaway as Rahul mistimed a flick to short midwicket. In the same over, Holder snared Mayank Agarwal too, who sliced the drive to mid-off. Rahul and Agarwal had added 120 in the last game. Here, Kings are 27 for 2 with Chris Gayle and Aiden Markram in the middle.
In the next over, Sandeep induces an outside of Markram's bat but it falls short of Saha.
Sandeep Sharma to take the new ball6.00pm
It was a bit of a surprise in Sunrisers' last game when Sandeep Sharma didn't bowl a single over in the powerplay, despite being the most successful bowler in that phase of the IPL. After the game, their coach Trevor Bayliss revealed the logic behind the move:
"In our practice matches, Khaleel was one of our best bowlers; he was getting the ball to move around. He's a little bit taller [than Sandeep] and we felt the ball was sort of sticking in the wicket for tall bowlers. And he basically bowled well. It was one of those things, trying to fit three new-ball bowlers into two [slots] and today we went with Khaleel, which meant Sandy had to play a little bit different role."
But now he is back with the new ball, bowling the first over. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will bowl from the other end. I think that's one box ticked for Sunrisers.
Find your best XI as soon as possible5.55pm
One of the keys to doing well at the IPL is to find your best XI as soon as possible. Mumbai Indians have a pretty settled XI; they make a change here or there depending on opposition or conditions. The same has been the case with Delhi Capitals when they had all their players available. On the other hand, Sunrisers have used 21 players in this season so far, and Kings made three changes for this game. Is it a mere coincidence that they are the bottom two teams at the moment?
Unchanged Sunrisers opt to bowl, Gayle returns for Kings5.30pm
Sunrisers have won the toss and they will be bowling first. Kane Williamson lists dew and a smaller ground as the reason behind his decision. They are going unchanged.
KL Rahul says he too would have bowled first. Three changes for them: Chris Gayle is back, and so is Ravi Bishnoi. As we reported earlier, Nathan Ellis makes his debut. Fabian Allen, Adil Rashid and Ishan Porel are out. One reason to bring back Gayle could be he is the only Kings batter to have a positive record against Rashid Khan.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: DA Warner, WP Saha†, KS Williamson*, MK Pandey, KM Jadhav, Abdul Samad, JO Holder, Rashid Khan, B Kumar, Sandeep Sharma, KK Ahmed
Punjab Kings: KL Rahul*†, MA Agarwal, CH Gayle, AK Markram, N Pooran, DJ Hooda, NT Ellis, Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami, Harpreet Brar, Arshdeep Singh
Can Punjab Kings join mid-table muddle?5.20pm
Welcome to the first double-header of the second leg of IPL 2021. It's Sunrisers Hyderabad versus Punjab Kings in Sharjah.
Currently placed seventh, Kings have six points from nine games. The three teams above them have eight points each. They should have been also tied with them but they bungled yet another chasing in their last outing, against Rajasthan Royals. Now, they have another chance to join them as they face the bottom-ranked Sunrisers Hyderabad, whose campaign has gone nowhere.
As Dale Steyn put it, Kings were the better team against Royals but still lost. But that doesn't mean they cannot improve. Their selection could have been better: they played Adil Rashid, an overseas player, when they had Ravi Bishnoi on the bench. And as expected, they have handed Nathan Ellis his cap. That could mean Ishan Porel can miss out tonight.
Sunrisers, on the other hand, have tried almost every combination with little success. T Natarajan testing positive and Vijay Shankar being his close contact has further hamstrung them. They may probably go with the same XI with the hope of a different result. The silver lining for them is their only win so far this season came against Kings.
Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo