Desperate Daredevils look to stop slide

Desperate Daredevils look to stop slide

Table-toppers Sunrisers look to consolidate their position

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Rashid Khan (left) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (centre) have been the pick of their bowlers. PTI

Despite the vagaries surrounding a T20 league, Sunrisers Hyderabad have managed to whip up a rare five-match winning streak. Among the favourites in this Indian Premier League season, the current table toppers will be keen to keep the momentum going when they meet Delhi Daredevils on their return leg on Thursday.

The Hyderabad franchise has challenged the conventions this year. They are the only team to have seized some stability in fluctuating moments. They have motored to the top on the strength of their bowling, rather than batting. With only two defeats in 10 matches and 16 points, they already have one foot in the play-offs and are ahead of the chasing pack comprising Chennai Super Kings (14 points from 10 matches), and Kings XI Punjab (12 points from 10 matches).

In contrast, Daredevils have fallen back to the bottom after a brief quiver. Under the new captaincy of young Shreyas Iyer, the Daredevils brimmed with optimism but it was washed down during their previous outing against SRH whom they lost by seven runs. With three wins, they are back being the back-benchers, and are preceded by Royal Challengers Bangalore, who though on identical points, have gained from a better net run-rate.

With four home matches in a row, Daredevils, their campaign more or less over, will look to earn some respect from the fans. They have had a four-day rest after their defeat to SRH and will be expected to take the field refreshed. Their pace trio of Trent Boult, Liam Plunkett and Avesh Khan have bowled well at home even as their spinners -Amit Mishra and Shahbaz Nadeem- haven’t made much of an impact.

In young Prithvi Shaw, they have had the find of the season while the good form of Iyer and Rishabh Pant has ensured it is the Daredevils youth brigade who is shouldering the bulk of batting.

They would have to be cautious against the bowling might of Hyderabad who have the penchant for defending small totals. The team led by Kane Williamson has put up a great show even though their batting hasn’t been as consistent.

But a battery of efficient bowlers, who are particularly lethal on slow conditions, have pulled them out of the hole time and again. If young Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been the flavor of the IPL with his knack for breaking partnerships and arresting runs in the middle overs, the pace-attack comprising Bhuveneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma has been equally effective.

In SRH, Daredevils have a daunting challenge. But who knows, under the comfort of familiar home conditions and crowd support, Delhi may pull off an act of daredevilry!