Two sides struggling for consistency this season will cross paths in the first game as part of today's double-header day as the Sunrisers Hyderabad, and the Kolkata Knight Riders square off in the 35th match of IPL 2020 in Abu Dhabi.
David Warner's SRH have just three wins from their eight matches so far and will be coming into this game on the back of two consecutive losses - one each to the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings.
The Knight Riders, on the other hand, stole all the headlines ahead of their clash against the Mumbai Indians as Dinesh Karthik relinquished the captaincy and handed it over to Eoin Morgan a few hours before the match.
However, the move failed to inspire any momentum as the Knights were thrashed in all departments by a high-flying MI setup, and fell to an 8-wicket beating at the hands of Rohit Sharma's men.
As for the these two sides' position on the IPL 2020 points table, they've somehow hung on to the middle positions. While SRH are in 5th place with three wins from eight matches, KKR are one place above courtesy of one more win than Warner's men.
There's quite a bit at stake for SRH today though, with a win guaranteed to take them into the top four owing to KKR's poor net run rate. As for KKR, they've struggled to nail down a perfect playing XI, and with the race heating up for the top four positions, Morgan will hope to turn around his side's fortunes real soon.
IPL 2020: SRH v KKR Match Prediction
At the halfway stage of the tournament, all the discussions around SRH and KKR revolved around the batting units of the two sides, albeit for different reasons. While the fragilities in the Sunrisers middle-order was the major topic of discussion, KKR's musical chairs in the batting unit received a fair share of brickbats.
During SRH's last match against CSK, although Kane Williamson's 39-ball 57 was the biggest highlight, the low strike-rates of the batsmen were yet again in focus. And that's been a trademark of the SRH batting so far this season, with Warner (121.88), Jonny Bairstow (129.03) and Manish Pandey (124.84) unable to switch to fifth gear after settling in well.
As for KKR, Shubman Gill's lack of intent in the powerplay has hurt them a fair bit, but that has been camouflaged by the constant chopping and changing in the batting order.
What's more, Andre Russell's poor show with the bat - 83 runs in eight matches at a strike rate of 140.67 - has further dented KKR's campaign. While Russell has been an integral part of the Knight Riders' bowling unit, the inexperience within the rest of the unit has hurt them.
Bowling out Pat Cummins within the 15th over has not worked well for KKR, with the likes of Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna leaking runs in the slog overs. With the Knights eager to infuse some experience into their side, they might need to consider bringing Kuldeep Yadav or Sunil Narine back into the team.
SRH will find familiarity in KKR's bowling issues, with none of the bowlers - barring Rashid Khan - able to make a telling impact. While T Natarajan has nailed his yorkers to perfection, his economy rate of 8.27 is an issue, while Sandeep Sharma's inconsistent returns have seen him pick up just five wickets in four matches.
And yet, if one was to write down the playing XIs next to one another, SRH might just have the batting firepower to challenge the KKR bowling unit. And with the constant changes in KKR's batting unit, the threat posed by Rashid might just see the middle-order struggle again.
Prediction: SRH to win today.Published 18 Oct 2020, 11:03 IST