Having brushed aside the Royal Challengers Bangalore rather methodically in the Eliminator on Friday at Abu Dhabi, Sunrisers Hyderabad would be high on confidence when they face a floundering Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2 at Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Hyderabad and Delhi have taken rather contrasting paths to Qualifier 2, the winner of whom will meet Mumbai Indians in the IPL 2020 final. Hyderabad have engineered a splendid turnaround after having reached the brink of elimination. They won all their last league three matches to leap to third on the IPL 2020 points table, before getting the better of RCB in the play-offs.
In contrast, Delhi, who were table toppers during the first half, did finish the league stage at number two, but suffered defeats in four of their last five matches, and were also hammered by Mumbai Indians in the first Qualifier.
As SRH and DC battle for a place in the IPL 2020 final, here are three player contests that can play a major role in deciding the fate of Qualifier 2.
#1. David Warner vs Kagiso Rabada
SRH skipper David Warner has been scoring runs right through IPL 2020. However, while he lacked fluency in the first half of the tournament, Warner has come into his own as the tournament has progressed towards the business end.
He has been aided by the promotion of Wriddhiman Saha to the top of the order, who has taken the pressure off him with some refreshing stroke-play. Warner was unlucky to be given out caught behind in the Eliminator. However, having already hit 546 runs in 15 games this season, he will be confident of standing up to Delhi in Qualifier 2.
DC lead pacer Kagiso Rabada is still among the leading wicket-takers in IPL 2020 with 25 wickets from 15 matches. However, his performances have taken a dip in the last few matches, coinciding with Delhi’s losing streak. Rabada was smashed for 54 the last time DC came up against SRH.
Even in the first Qualifier against Mumbai, Rabada went wicketless while conceding 42 in his four overs. The fast bowler will have to find his rhythm against SRH in the must-win Qualifier 2. His battle with SRH opener Warner will be crucial, and could very well set the tone of the innings.
#2. Shikhar Dhawan vs Sandeep Sharma
Cricket pundits will be running out of words to describe Shikhar Dhawan’s performance in IPL 2020. It has been a mix of the exhilarating and the exasperating. One really doesn’t know which Dhawan would turn out to bat in Qualifier 2. While the left-hander’s overall numbers are highly impressive -- 525 runs from 15 games at an average of 43.75 and a strike rate of 144.23 -- his inconsistency of late has been worrying.
Following his record twin hundreds, Dhawan’s scores have read as follows -- 6,0,0,54,0. One of the ducks came against SRH the last time these two teams met. With Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane struggling, it will be imperative for senior statesman Dhawan to lift his game in Qualifier 2.
It was Sandeep Sharma who dismissed Dhawan first ball the last time these two teams met. The medium pacer will be raring to have a go at the DC opener once again in Qualifier 2. Sharma has been central to SRH’s late resurgence and their progress to the play-offs with his accuracy and ability to produce mistakes in batsmen.
By keeping things very simple, Sharma has picked up nine wickets in the last five matches, a number of them being top-order batsmen. Dhawan would be well aware of the danger of Sharma, but he is someone who backs himself to take on the opposition bowlers. It remains to be seen whether Dhawan can exact sweet revenge in Qualifier 2 or if Sharma maintains his stranglehold over the Delhi opener.
#3. Rashid Khan vs Shreyas Iyer
There has not been a year since making his IPL debut that Rashid Khan hasn’t made an impression. And IPL 2020 has been no different. In 15 matches, he has picked up 19 wickets at a strike rate of 18.94. Apart from the number of scalps he has taken, what has stood out about Rashid has been his excellent economy rate of 5.30.
The stats prove that even as teams have tried to play out the leg-spinner, he has found ways to pick up wickets, and rather consistently at that. The last time SRH faced DC, Rashid wreaked havoc with figures of 3 for 7. Can he repeat his heroics again against the same opposition in Qualifier 2?
Their skipper Shreyas Iyer has had a disappointing IPL 2020 so far. He has a decent 433 runs to his name in 15 matches, but his strike rate has been a poor 123.36, and he has only two fifties to show for his efforts. Iyer’s last fifty in IPL 2020 came as far back as October 14 against the Royals. Since that match, his scores have been 23,14,47,7,25,7 and 12.
Iyer’s shot selection has left a lot to be desired. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that being the leader, Iyer has let the team down. However, the DC skipper can still make amends if he comes good in Qualifier 2. Being one of the better players of spin in the Delhi line-up, he should take up the responsibility of dealing with the major threat of leggie Rashid in Qualifier 2.