Karn Sharma, the Sunrisers Hyderabad legspinner, hopes to draw inspiration from his last year's impressive outings against Chennai Super Kings to help his team register their maiden victory over the most successful IPL team.
"I could come up with memorable performances in both those games - once with the ball and then with the bat, but we ended up on the losing side. I hope I can not just continue the good work but also lead the side to a win on Sunday," Sharma, the priciest uncapped domestic player of the 2014 Pepsi Indian Premier League, told ESPNcricinfo.
In 2013, with the formidable Super Kings chasing 160 runs, Sharma's economical spell of 4-1-8-0 stretched the batsmen to the hilt before they eventually overhauled the target with two balls to spare. In the return leg, once Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey had batted the Sunrisers out of the game with the Super Kings piling on 223, the Sunrisers top-order collapsed. It was Sharma who then scored an unbeaten 39 off 33 balls, his best in the IPL, to lend some respectability to the Sunrisers batting card.
Sharma, whose batting prowess has hardly come to the fore, gave a glimpse of his skill with bat when he hooked Mitchell Johnson for a six in the match against Kings XI Punjab earlier this season. Asked about the shot, Sharma said, "It was good I timed the shot. Didn't premeditate it, but it just came off. Let's hope I can continue doing good whenever I get an opportunity with the bat."
During the player auction in February, the Sunrisers management revamped their batting unit, but managed to retain their last year's successful bowling attack. The versatile bowling attack led by Dale Steyn and Amit Mishra includes six regular bowlers, thus putting lots of pressure on Sharma when he bowls his opening over.
"I know I can never take it for granted that I will get my full quota of four overs," he said. "I have to earn it, so the first over that I bowl becomes crucial. It also depends on the situation, sometimes I have to bowl when the fielding restrictions are on while sometimes I get to bowl the first over during middle overs. But the first over is quite crucial as far as my role with the ball is concerned."
The new-look Sunrisers unit, with the addition of Australia's successful opening duo of Aaron Finch and David Warner, took time to settle in. It took them their third game to register their maiden victory of the season. Even while defending 184 against Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers faced some anxious moments before hanging in for a four-run win.
"They were always going hard at us, but even when they required 20 runs off the last over, we were confident of winning the game. We all know it's Twenty20 and anything can happen, but the manner in which we had kept them in check, we were quite confident of winning it," Sharma said. "We had to wait for the first win for a while, but it came just in time. It was a much-needed victory before facing possibly the toughest opponents in IPL. Let's hope we can continue in the same vein and end up on the winning side against CSK."
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo