Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), who are languishing at the bottom of the points table, will take on sixth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the 22nd match of IPL 2020 at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.
Punjab have only managed to win one out of their five games while Hyderabad have performed slightly better with two wins and three losses.
In their previous encounter against the Chennai Super Kings, Punjab were handed a massive thrashing by 10 wickets as both their batting their bowling units did not deliver on the day.
As for Sunrisers, they have been plagued by injuries and form issues in IPL 2020. SRH pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been ruled out of IPL 2020 due to a thigh muscle injury, significantly weakening their bowling attack. SRH's batting lineup is strong on paper but hasn’t come together on the field.
With SRH and KXIP looking to move up the points table, we look at three player battles that could impact the outcome of the match.
#1. David Warner vs Mohammed Shami
Despite a fighting half-century in the last match, SRH skipper David Warner is yet to find his best form in IPL 2020. The Aussie left-hander hasn’t looked like the dominant force he was in previous editions of the IPL.
In five matches so far, Warner has scored 175 runs at a strike rate of 123.23, which is significantly lower than last year’s strike rate of 143.86. One of the reasons the SRH captain hasn’t been able to flourish is the team's under-performing batting unit.
However, to have an impact against KXIP, Warner will have to return to his attacking best.
With Sheldon Cottrell struggling to make an impact consistently, there will be additional pressure on Mohammed Shami to deliver the goods against SRH.
Shami has been excellent at the start of the innings, constantly picking up the big wickets. He will be expected to get rid of Warner early as well as it will open up cracks in the batting order.
However, this will not be an easy battle for Shami as SRH's Aussie opener will be equally committed to getting his team off to a flying start.
#2. KL Rahul vs T. Natarajan
Although Kings XI Punjab are languishing at the bottom of the points table, their skipper KL Rahul has been in exceptional form. In five matches, he has smashed 302 runs at a strike rate of 141.78 with one hundred and two fifties.
Rahul has looked in great touch every time he has stepped out to the middle of the pitch and his unbeaten 132 earlier in the tournament will go down as one of the finest innings in the history of the IPL. Rahul will be eager to replicate that performance for KXIP against SRH.
Left-arm seamer T. Natarajan has been the unsung hero of the SRH bowling line-up. He has kept things extremely tight while also picking up crucial wickets for his team. Natarajan's ability to bowl yorkers in the death overs has been important for his team.
In five games, he has picked up five wickets at a strike rate of 22.80, although his economy rate has been on the higher side at 8.31. In the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Natarajan will find himself thrust into the role of the lead pacer, and will go face-to-face with KL Rahul.
It remains to be seen how the unheralded Natarajan responds to the challenge.
#3. Rashid Khan vs Nicholas Pooran
Even as SRH have been stuttering in IPL 2020, leggie Rashid Khan has rediscovered his rhythm after a couple of average performances at the start of IPL 2020.
The 22-year-old was the Man of the Match with wonderful figures of 3 for 14 as SRH stunned the Delhi Capitals. Against Chennai, Khan was sensational again, giving away only 12 runs in his four overs. After five games, Khan has an unbelievable economy rate of 5.20 and a strike rate of 24.
With Glenn Maxwell struggling to get the big hits, KXIP have depended on Nicholas Pooran to provide the impetus in the middle and late overs. The West Indian hasn’t disappointed with some swashbuckling cameos for his team.
Pooran has smashed 119 runs at a strike rate of 163.01. The attacking left-hander will have a tough task if and when he comes face-to-face with Rashid Khan. However, if Pooran manages to hit the gifted leggie out of the attack, KXIP will have won a major battle in the game.Published 08 Oct 2020, 15:31 IST