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IPL 2014: Match Preview - Hyderabad plays Kolkata in crucial mid-table contest

With just 4 matches remaining for both teams in the league stage, Sunrisers Hyderabad play the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday in Hyderabad.

Race for the playoffs

The league stage of the Pepsi IPL 2014 is drawing to a close. Punjab, Chennai and Rajasthan are almost through to the play-offs barring a drastic loss of form in the remaining matches. But there is a big battle for the fourth and last play-off spot between Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bangalore.

The Kolkata Knight Riders are in fifth position currently with 10 points in 10 matches. If they manage to win against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they will go 4 points ahead of both Hyderabad and Bangalore with just 3 games left. If that happens, Kolkata will get some breathing space which they definitely need considering their remaining matches are against Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad again.

Sunrisers Hyderabad are in sixth position currently with 8 points in 10 matches. They are above Bangalore by the narrowest of margins with their NRR being more than that of Bangalore by 0.002! Considering that their remaining matches are against Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata again, they need this win desperately.

Kolkata Knight Riders

KKR will depend on Narine as always

KKR will depend on Sunil Narine as always

Current Form

Last 3 matches: WWW

Kolkata had an indifferent start to the tournament in UAE and lost from winning positions to Rajasthan Royals twice in 6 days. But the return to form of their captain, Gautam Gambhir has (not surprisingly) coincided with their winning streak. They won their last 3 matches very convincingly and are on a roll.

Key Players

1. Robin Uthappa: Uthappa has been in top form this year scoring 382 runs with a strike rate of 130.37. His great run includes 6 scores above 30 out of which he has crossed fifty 3 times. More importantly, in the last 3 matches which KKR has won, he has scores of 47, 47 and 80. If he continues his great run of form it will be very reassuring for Kolkata.

2. Manish Pandey: While it has been Gambhir and Uthappa who have provided the great starts for Kolkata, Pandey has seen them past the finish line in 2 of their last 3 wins. Due to the law of averages and Hyderabad’s potent bowling attack, Gambhir and/or Uthappa are bound to fail soon and it will be Pandey who will play a key role in ensuring there is no further damage. Another reason why Pandey needs to fire is KKR’s out of form middle order comprising of Yousuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate.

3. Morne Morkel: Morkel has been inconsistent this year for KKR. He has played 7 out of their 10 matches taking 9 wickets with an economy of 7.57. But he bowled well in their last two wins against Punjab and Mumbai taking wickets at the start and middle of the innings. If he manages to do the same against Hyderabad’s “top heavy” batting line up it will be a big boost for KKR.

4. Sunil Narine: No mention of Kolkata Knight Riders can be complete without Sunil Narine. It is his third season in the IPL and still batsmen can’t pick him. As usual he has had a wonderful season, taking 14 wickets in 10 matches with the second best economy rate of 6.17. This miserly economy rate is in spite of the fact that he often bowls 3 overs of the last 6. All it takes is for 1 other bowler to have a good day and Narine can either run through the side or choke the innings in the end.

Areas of concern

Kolkata may be on a winning streak but it won’t take a lot for them to return to their losing ways. Their winning streak has been based on some great bowling from Sunil Narine and another spinner – Piyush Chawla or Shakib Al Hasan. After that they have relied heavily on the opening combination of Gambhir and Uthappa to chase down totals.

But if both of them have an off day it will be very tough for them. Narine also needs at least two bowlers to bowl well apart from him because even though he might be dependable, teams have chosen to play him out and attack others.

Sunrisers Hyderabad

steyn-2188673

SRH will hope that Steyn fires in the big game

Current Form

Last 3 matches: LLW

Sunrisers Hyderbad have been extremely inconsistent in the entire tournament and have lost 2 out of their last 3 matches. Their last win came against Delhi in a rain curtailed match where their revised target thanks to Duckworth-Lewis method was 43 from 5 overs. After that they couldn’t defend totals in two consecutive matches, first against the Mumbai Indians and then against the marauding Punjab side.

Key Players

1. David Warner: Warner has been the lone bright spot for Hyderabad’s batting in the tournament. He has scored a total of 341 runs at an amazing average of 48.71 and a strike rate of 129.16. He crossed 30 runs 6 times and has scored 4 fifties. If he plays well, Hyderabad will most probably get a good total since his strike rate is always healthy.

2. Shikhar Dhawan: Dhawan has had good starts in the tournament but he hasn’t made good use of them. He has scored more than 30 runs 5 times in the tournament but he doesn’t have a single fifty. He showed signs of regaining his touch in the last game against Punjab scoring 45 off 37 balls which was his best effort of the tournament. If he gives a good start to Hyderabad along with Aaron Finch it will be a big boost for them as David Warner and Naman Ojha both are in good touch.

3. Dale Steyn: Steyn and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been a treat to watch this season but surprisingly it’s Kumar who has overshadowed the best fast bowler in the world. Not only has he got 18 wickets to Steyn’s 10 but he has a much better economy rate of 5.92 as compared to Steyn’s 7.45. Nevertheless, it will be up to Steyn to deliver in the big match. If he can get a few wickets early for Hyderbad, Kolkata’s batting will come under big pressure.

4. Amit Mishra: Much was expected out of India’s best bowler in the T20 World Cup. Hyderabad was supposed to have the best bowling attack with Mishra and Karn Sharma backing up the great opening pair of Steyn and Kumar. But Mishra has had a forgettable series so far. He has taken just 7 wickets with a very high economy rate of 9.01 and was even dropped for a game. He has been unlucky too, twice getting the best batsman in the tournament, Glenn Maxwell out on a no-ball.  There is no doubting his talent though and if he has a good game along with Steyn and Kumar, Hyderabad could well win the game with their bowling.

Areas of concern

Hyderabad has been very inconsistent throughout the tournament but there is no way they can afford that now. They need either Shikhar Dhawan or Aaron Finch to fire along with David Warner. Their batting is definitely “top heavy” and if they lose quick wickets the middle order will come under severe pressure.

KL Rahul, Irfan Pathan, Moises Henriques and others will have a tough time facing Sunil Narine so it is imperative that they preserve wickets. They also desperately need their leg spin twins Sharma and Mishra to fire in tandem. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar maybe holding the Purple Cap but he can bowl only 4 overs.

All in all, this should be a great game to watch, one that might go a long way in determining who goes through to the playoffs.

Match Day: Sunday, 18 May 2014

Match Time: 20:00 IST

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