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Analysis

Tactics Board: Who wins the Starc vs Head battle? Will dew play a part?

Klaasen and Markram against the KKR spinners will be key, while Unadkat and Cummins could be the answer to suppressing Narine the big-hitter

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
25-May-2024
Mitchell Starc killed Qualifier 1 between these two sides, with three wickets in his first spell which prevented that match from becoming a tactical battle. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have now lost both their matches this year against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and need to pull something out of the hat to get the better of the favourites KKR. Even though their part-time left-arm spinners outbowled Yuzvendra Chahal and R Ashwin in Qualifier 2, SRH know KKR are superior in that department. Here is a look at how the tactics might play out.

The toss

Dew remains a big mystery, and too significant a factor to not worry about. In Ahmedabad, where dew had stayed away in the league stages, it proved to be decisive in the playoffs. In Chennai, where it had handicapped the defending sides in the league matches, the dew didn't turn up in Qualifier 2, letting the SRH part-time spinners thrive on a deteriorating pitch. Now the teams will be left guessing which way to go.
Unless they see something definitive in the ground conditions on the eve of the match, it might appear SRH will prefer to bat first and KKR won't mind chasing. Both teams hold a 6-3 record batting first, but KKR are unbeaten when chasing while SRH have succeeded only three times out of six chases.

The Starc spell

Starc has now rattled Travis Head's off stump with a full, swinging ball across formats. Qualifier 1 was the first time he bowled to his Australia compatriot in T20s, and it took only two balls for him to hit the off stump. He will look to do the same here; don't be surprised if Head gets off to a cautious start as he did against Trent Boult and Ashwin in both his encounters against Rajasthan Royals.
At the other end, Vaibhav Arora will be asked to start off bowling top of off, an area that Abhishek Sharma has attacked the least. For Head, he could start slightly wider, taking the ball further away with his natural swing, with both his sweepers on the off side.

Markram, Klaasen to handle spinners

Aiden Markram might not be in the runs but he is a decent choice in the SRH middle order as he holds a good record against Varun Chakravarthy in the IPL: 68 runs in 35 balls, while being dismissed twice. While Markram hasn't quite punished Sunil Narine, he has got out to him only once in 41 balls. Heinrich Klaasen has a great record against Narine: 18 balls, 30 runs, no dismissal. All the more reason for SRH to try to come out of the powerplay unscathed.

Keeper up for Bhuvneshwar

One of the ways KKR negated Bhuvneshwar Kumar in Qualifier 1 was to leave the crease and cut the movement. KKR will look to do the same again, which is why it will make sense for keeper Klaasen to stand up to the stumps even before a batter tries to dance down the track.

Unadkat, Cummins in powerplay

Bhuvneshwar has a good record against Narine but he could be held back for one over against the Iyers, Shreyas and Venkatesh. Jaydev Unadkat has got Narine out three times in 22 balls, Cummins once in five. They could be used to bowl four overs in the powerplay.
Overall, SRH might need to be a little defensive in the early exchanges both when batting and bowling to give themselves a chance against the more fancied side in KKR.

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo