Sunrisers Hyderabad, runners up in 2018, open their campaign this year with an away game against Kolkata Knight Riders – the venue where, in 2018, SRH won both of its games against the home team.
KKR and SRH both looked good on paper, but the former go into the tournament suffering the triple blow of its three pace bowlers, Anrich Nortje, Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, all ruled out through injury.
The Gardens favors chasing sides, thanks mainly to the dew that is prevalent in April, and is heavy enough to make bowlers’ lives miserable.
Since 2014, the teams have faced each six times, with KKR winning four times. Interestingly, three of these wins came with KKR batting first, contrary to the ground’s behavior.
At the Gardens, there is very little difference between how spinners and pacers go in the powerplays but noticeably, batsmen begin to struggle against spin, more than pace, in the middle phase.
That sets up a battle within the larger war, since both KKR and SRH have very good spin attacks; also, the middle order batsmen of both teams are very good at playing spin – all the makings, in fact, for a great, even battle.
An illustrative example of how this phenomenon has played out: In 2018, chasing 175 in the qualifier, KKR got off to a flying start and at the halfway mark was comfortably placed at 87 for 2. But in the next 10 overs they managed a mere 73 runs as SRH’s Rashid khan and Shakib Al Hasan ripped through a KKR middle order that is supposedly good against spin.
Net net, this game will be won and lost in the middle overs of each innings. Therefore, a deeper dive into how batsmen have fared against spin during overs 7-15:
Besides having ace spinners, SRH also has a potent pace attack. During the first powerplay, bowlers like Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed have not only taken taken wickets but have been miserly – and then they have Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, one of the best death bowlers in the world, to finish things off.
In contrast, KKR has one of the worst pace attacks in the tournament. Last year, the seamers not only took the least number of wickets in the tournament, but went for 10 runs per over, the worst economy rate among all teams.
When it comes to batting, KKR’s opening duo of Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn is arguably the most destructive alongside Punjab’s Chris Gayle and KL Rahul. In the first six overs, Naraine and Lynn have blown away every attack they have faced, with the result that KKR has the best run rate of all teams in the powerplays. Against that, SRH have a bonus in the return of David Warner, a batsman capable of exploding at the top and batting deep into the middle.
So there you have the contours of an intriguing contest: KKR’s big-hitting openers versus SRH’s quality seam attack; two sets of quality spinners going up against two sets of batsmen capable of playing spin well, on a ground that favors spin.
Kolkata Knight Riders (Probable): Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Harry Gurney, Kuldeep Yadav
Sunrisers Hyderabad (Probable): David Warner, Shreevats Goswami, Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammed Nabi, Wriddhiman Saha(wk), Rashid Khan, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma