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A bout between the two strongest teams on paper

Last updated on 01 Apr 2023 | 11:38 AM
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A bout between the two strongest teams on paper

SRH might be missing a few of their players for the first game, but they still do pack a punch

16 years have gone by, but the ambiance at the start of a new season of the Indian Premier League always remains fresh and exciting. More so, the teams will now be in the comfort of their home. 

Yes, people! After three years, your home team and their heroes will play in front of your eyes like before. Many new players are yet to experience how it feels to play in the presence of their home crowd. At least for them, this year's IPL will be at a whole new level.  

The noon match on Sunday is undoubtedly the match of the weekend. In the comfort of their home, Sunrisers Hyderabad will welcome Rajasthan Royals. Both these teams, without question, are two of the most balanced sides on paper. 

However, the hosts will miss the services of a few overseas players in their opener. Their official captain Aiden Markram, Marco Jansen and Heinrich Klaasen will not be available because of national commitments. 

Regardless of their absence, they still do produce firepower. Adding to that, beating them in their den is a challenging task. In IPL since 2017, they have won 76.1 percent of their games at home, the best after Chennai Super Kings (80%). 

If someone can give them a run for their record, it must be Rajasthan. They were the runners-up in IPL 2022, which proves that they hardly put any foot wrong last season. The one thing they needed last year was the quality all-rounder and Jason Holder's addition from the mini-auction has solved that as well. 

Rajasthan, however, have suffered a setback in the form of the injury to Prasidh Krishna. He was their second-highest wicket-taker (19) in IPL 2022. Sandeep Sharma, an IPL veteran, has replaced him and it remains to be seen if the he can bounce back following a challenging last season.

Things to watch out for

The battle of powerplay bowlers

Imagine this as a batter. Pacers who can swing both ways are running toward you with a brand-new ball on a pitch that has been the best for the quicks — a frightening prospect.

In the match between Hyderabad and Rajasthan, three pacers have earned a name for themselves as best powerplay bowlers—Trent Boult and Sandeep for Rajasthan, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar for Hyderabad. 

Between them, there is an experience of 149 powerplay wickets (1-6) in IPL. Bhuvi leads the list with 55, Sandeep with 54, and Boult with 40. In terms of strike rate, Sandeep's 25.4 bests the three. Economy-wise, Bhuvi (6.0) has been the miserly one.

Additionally, the surface in Hyderabad has been beneficial for the pacers not only in the powerplay but overall as well. 

Can Mayank bounce back?

Mayank Agarwal had two great seasons with Punjab Kings. He scored 424 runs at an average of 38.55 and a strike rate of 156.5 in 2020, and 441 runs at 40.1 and 140.4 in 2021. 

Mayank then captained Punjab in 2022 but it didn't pan out as he expected. He managed only 196 runs at an average of 16.3 and a strike rate of 120.5. His average was the worst among batters who had faced 150+ balls in the 2022 season.

Mayank also didn't have a great Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022/23. Without the captaincy responsibility over his head, can Mayank be the charismatic opener he was in 2020 & 21?

A reckoning season for Abhishek 

Hyderabad is a team filled with star-studded international batters. Mayank, Markram, Harry Brook, and Rahul Tripathi to name a few.

Amongst these stars, there is Abhishek Sharma. In fact, in Hyderabad's main playing XI (excluding the impact sub), Abhishek is the only uncapped player. 

The left-handed batter had a great season the last time around. He scored 426 runs at an average of 30.4 and a strike rate of 133.1, the most runs by a Hyderabad batter in 2022. If he can repeat the same, the possibility of Abhishek earning an India call-up won't be far away. A left-handed opener who can roll his arm over will be a boon for the Men in Blue. 

Pitch and conditions

In the IPL since 2016, Hyderabad has been a venue that’s favoured the bowlers, especially the pacers. Pacers have bagged a wicket every 19.2 balls while conceding 7.9 runs per over—the best among the current venues allotted for IPL 2023. 

72.4 percent of the wickets have belonged to the quicks, the highest percentage of wickets bagged by pacers at a venue. On the other hand, spinners have snaffled a wicket every 27.5 balls. Only in Mohali, the strike rate is worse (28.3). 

On average, the venue has witnessed 159 runs in the first innings. The average first innings scores are lower in Chennai (153) and Ahmedabad (154). In the 30 IPL matches played since 2016, teams batting first and second have had an equal share of wins. 

That being said, the toss has not been captain friendly. In 40 percent of the matches, teams winning the toss have lost the game, the worst among all venues. 

Tactical Nous  

- In the IPL since 2021, Jos Buttler has 1117 runs at an average of 50.8 and a strike rate of 149.9. Only KL Rahul (1242) has scored more than him. Batting against the pacers, Buttler averages 46.6 and strikes at 146.1. Apart from good-length balls, he has a strike rate of 150 or above on all lengths. All-in-all, the pacers must pay attention to their lengths.

- In the 2022 IPL, Mayank's major problem came against the spinners. His overall average was low, but it was worse against spinners. Mayank averaged 24 against pacers as compared to 8.7 against the tweakers. 

In this time frame, Mayank has an average of 38.25 against pacers and 17.8 against spinners. The majority of his dismissals have come against leg spinners. In the aforementioned time, he has six dismissals and averages only nine. 

Team Combination

Apart from the three South Africans, the rest of the players are available for Hyderabad. Hyderabad's four overseas players could be Harry Brook, Glenn Phillips, Adil Rashid, and Fazalhaq Farooqi. Bhuvneshwar will lead the team in the absence of Markram.

Probable XI: Mayank Agarwal, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Harry Brook, Glenn Phillips (wk), Abdul Samad/Sanvir Singh, Washington Sundar, Adil Rashid, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (c), Fazalhaq Farooqi, T Natarajan.

Every player, apart from Prasidh, is available for Rajasthan. Their four overseas players could be Jos Buttler, Shimron Hetmyer, Jason Holder, and Trent Boult. 

Probable XI: Jos Buttler, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Jason Holder, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sandeep Sharma, Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal.

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