IPL 2019 has reached its business end, and everyone is awaiting the start of the playoffs now. Teams like Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians have almost booked their seats to the next stage, and it now seems like a three-way battle for the fourth and final spot.
With five wins from 10 games, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are now in the fourth position on the IPL points table. The Kings XI Punjab also have five wins from the same number of matches, but a lower net run rate means they are one rung below SRH, in the fifth spot.
After three defeats on the trot against the Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals, the SRH came roaring back with two consecutive wins against the Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders. But the recent encounter against CSK saw them getting defeated by 6 wickets, which would have again caused them to lose momentum.
Their in-form opening batsman Jonny Bairstow has also left for England to attend his national team's World Cup preparation camp, which would be a big blow to SRH.
One bold decision that the SRH can take to revive their fortunes is replacing Sandeep Sharma with Basil Thampi. Sharma's bowling figures in the last four games read 3.5-0-54-1 (against CSK), 4-0-37-1 (against KKR), 4-0-33-0 (in a low scoring game against CSK) and 4-0-30-0 (against DC). Those do not make for good reading at all.
With only four more matches left for the playoffs, SRH cannot afford to carry an out-of-form bowler in any of the upcoming matches. Sharma is in effect holding the team down with his erratic bowling.
Thampi, the young pacer from Kerala, was awarded with the IPL Emerging Cricketer Award in 2017 as he finished the season with 11 wickets. He is known to hit the deck hard and is capable of bowling lethal yorkers above 140 kmph. His IPL wickets include Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle, MS Dhoni and Hashim Amla, which shows his class.
If SRH pick Thampi instead of Sharma, they would be giving themselves a better chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
Probable XI – Sunrisers Hyderabad
David Warner, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Yusuf Pathan, Deepak Hooda, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Basil Thampi, Khaleel Ahmed.
Players on the bench: Ricky Bhui, Jonny Bairstow, Shreevats Goswami, Wriddhiman Saha, Martin Guptill, Mohammad Nabi, Siddharth Kaul, Shakib Al Hassan, Sandeep Sharma, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Abhishek Sharma
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