An inconsistent Kolkata Knight Riders will take on an unpredictable Sunrisers Hyderabad in match number 35 of IPL 2020 at Abu Dhabi, in the first of the double-headers on Sunday.
KKR saw a change in leadership as Eoin Morgan took over as captain from Dinesh Karthik prior to the Mumbai match. It was too short a notice for England’s World Cup-winning leader to make any impact on the match as captain as they went down by eight wickets. His actual test as an IPL captain begins now.
While KKR now have four wins and four losses from eight games, SRH have lost one match extra having played the same number of games this IPL. They will be worried with the fact that they have gone down in their last two matches to RR and CSK respectively.
As KKR and SRH look to gain consistency in the second half of the IPL, we analyse three player battles that can make a difference
#1. Jonny Bairstow vs Pat Cummins
Like last IPL, this time too SRH have been heavily dependent on openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow in their batting. And, while neither has set the stage on fire yet, they have been among the runs.
Bairstow, in particular, has looked the more fluent of the duo. He has managed 280 runs from eight games at a strike-rate of a touch under 130 with three fifties. Against KKR as well, SRH will be looking to Bairstow to be provide them with solidity at the top of the order.
The match against SRH will be yet another opportunity for Pat Cummins to prove his worth. While he played an excellent counter-attacking knock against Mumbai, he yet again failed to pick up a wicket with the ball. Although Cummins has been inexpensive of late, he only has two wickets to show from his eight matches, which is a highly disappointing return, especially considering what the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Jofra Archer have produced. Cummins will have to raise his game, and nipping out Bairstow early will be a good start.
#2. Eoin Morgan vs Rashid Khan
Having taken over as KKR captain, there will now be additional responsibility on Eoin Morgan to succeed. Even as player, Morgan had done a decent job, playing some handsome cameos for his team.
His ability to find the boundaries with his unorthodox stroke play remains his strength. In his first match as skipper for KKR against Mumbai, he was understandably subdued with an unbeaten 39 from 29 balls as KKR had lost half their side with very few runs on the board. Kolkata, though, would want Morgan to express himself freely for that is when he is at his best.
Playing spin is undoubtedly among Morgan’s strengths. In SRH leggie Rashid Khan, he will find a fierce competitor. After an average start to IPL 2020, Rashid has picked himself up commendably well. He now has 10 wickets from eight matches at a strike rate of 19.20 and an excellent economy rate of 5.34 this IPL.
However, in the match against Rajasthan Royals, left-hander Rahul Tewatia proved that it is not impossible to take on Rashid. Morgan, being a southpaw himself, will have similar plans. Rashid, though, should be up for the challenge.
#3. Kane Williamson vs Varun Chakravarthy
SRH middle-order bat Kane Williamson has propped up a weak middle-order ever since he has been fit into the playing XI by the management. Having played six matches this IPL, he has eased his way to 144 runs at an excellent strike rate of 144.76.
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In other words, the Kiwi skipper has provided the much-needed impetus to the batting. Against CSK as well, Williamson played an excellent knock of 57 from 39. It went in vain though as the other batsmen failed in the chase of 168.
Williamson is an excellent player of spin, and as such, he will look to take on Varun Chakravarthy. The mystery spinner has six wickets in seven games at an economy of 7.21 this IPL. While the numbers aren’t extraordinary, what Chakravarthy has managed is to get some big scalps. With Williamson being the main man in SRH’s middle-order, Chakravarthy will look to unsettle him as quickly as possible. Who among the two wins the battle could go a long way in shifting the momentum of this intriguing IPL contest.