Sunrisers face tough task against KKR

Dinesh Karthik has led KKR superbly this season.

Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders will be aiming to exploit Sunrisers Hyderabad's recent run of poor form when the two teams square off in what promises to be a high-octane second Qualifier of the Indian Premier League, here on Friday.

While KKR ticked all the boxes during the business end of the tournament with four wins on the trot, table-toppers Sunrisers have slipped after finishing on top of the league table.

Call it complacency or the lack of performance from their middle-order, Sunrisers have lost four straight games, something that will be a cause of concern for Kane Williamson's brigade.

Arguably the best bowling attack in the tournament with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma delivering consistently along with the immensely talented Rashid Khan, Sunrisers would like to extract whatever juice is available from the Eden Gardens track.

But with the momentum strongly in favour of Dinesh Karthik and Co, who will also heavily bank on home advantage, it will need a special effort from the Kane Williamson-led side to stop the Kolkata juggernaut and return to winning ways.

The first team to qualify for the play-offs, the Sunrisers' slide began in Pune, when their famed bowling attack failed to defend 180 against Chennai and then went on to lose to RCB, KKR and CSK in subsequent games.

Hyderabad's problem has been their batting which is heavily reliant on skipper Williamson, the current 'Orange Cap' holder with 685 runs at 57.05 average.

Their latest defeat will hurt them the most as they had their match in pocket with Chennai struggling at 113/8 inside 18 overs chasing 140 but Williamson's strategy to keep an over from Carlos Brathwaite at the death backfired.

The West Indian leaked 20 runs in the 18th over, and as such, Hyderabad will have a selection headache of whom to use as the fifth and sixth bowler.

Bhuvneshwar (9 wickets) will also need to get his act together complement the wily Afghan wrist spinner Rashid Khan (18 wickets). Siddarth Kaul (19 wickets) has been their best bowler of the season with consistent efforts at the start as well as death.

Out for a 'golden duck' in the last match, Shikhar Dhawan (437 runs) will have to rise to the occasion but it is the middle-order that has created problems for Sunrisers. Manish Pandey (284) and Yusuf Pathan (212) have been big flops and their inability to provide the necessary muscle in the middle overs is a concern.

There will be no such headache for Kolkata skipper Dinesh Karthik who will look to go unchanged unless there's any niggle in the lineup. A surprise choice as Kolkata skipper after the departure of their most successful captain Gautam Gambhir, Dinesh Karthik has done well, averaging 54.44 from 15 matches.

Two wins shy of winning the title, Karthik will look to go full throttle in a standout season for the softspoken Tamil Nadu cricketer. Their biggest strength has been the team's ability to find a match-winner even when a proven performer fails.

On Wednesday night, opener Sunil Narine failed to give the team a fiery start but Andre Russell's 25-ball 49 not out ensured they ended with a flourish to eliminate Royals.

Narine was ineffective as a bowler too but the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla did their tasks well while the young Prasidh Krishna led the pace attack.

The winners will face CSK in the final in Mumbai on May 27.

 

 

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Sunrisers face tough task against KKR

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