In probably the most important fixture of this stage of the season, Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad for match 48 of Vivo IPL 2019.
Both these sides are on 5 wins from 11 games and are 4th and 5th respectively on the points table. These 2 teams are most likely to grab the 4th position available in the points table to qualify for the playoffs and with RR and RCB closing in from behind, a win in this game will give a huge boost to the playoffs hopes of these sides.
Kings XI Punjab play after a 6-day break in their fixtures, before which they lost to the Royal Challengers Bangalore, a match which raised many questions about their team selection. They leaked many runs at the death and apart from KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran, no batsman looked comfortable at the crease.
They are aldready sensing a feeling of deja vu from last season where they had a similar occurrence and they would want to win this match.
SRH, meanwhile were billed the favorites by many experts and fans alike, but the Orange Army's prized bowling attack hasn't lived up to the expectations this year. Their top-order batsmen, especially David Warner, have been the sole saviors for them this season and they come off from two successive losses to CSK and RR.
With a lot to play for, let's take a look at which team has the upper hand in this fixture.
If SRH bat first:
SRH's top order is pretty well set with Manish Pandey showing his true class and they will look to be aggressive at the start and not lose too many wickets in the middle overs. Warner is likely to leave after this game and will want to finish off his season with a bang, while skipper Kane Williamson will desperately want to make some runs.
Their middle order, though hasn't been firing and if Punjab can get a couple of early breakthroughs, SRH might struggle. Still, on a great batting surface, SRH can easily make 180-190 runs. Their bowlers however have to fire and with teams reading Rashid Khan well and just playing him out, the other bowlers have to feed on the pressure he creates.
If KXIP bat first:
Punjab have relied on their openers to score the runs for them and those two haven't put on a huge partnership in a long time. They are due for a big one and with the high stakes and the poor form of the SRH bowlers, Punjab stand a chance of posting a huge total in this game. A score of about 170-190 runs can be expected.
Their bowling, however has been as dreadful as SRH's and they need to bring in someone like Andrew Tye to mitigate the damage done at the death because how much ever runs they score, they must be able to defend it.
Who will win?
The last time both these sides met, it was Punjab who won the match. SRH look beaten and after 2 losses on the roads, a win will be fitting.
But despite SRH's higher position on the points table, KXIP's freshness trumps SRH's strengths and the Punjab batsmen can take the game away from the hosts. Hence Punjab can be backed to win this crucial game.Published 28 Apr 2019, 16:36 IST