Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will have to get back to their winning ways when they take on defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday.
The winner of of the match will face the loser of Qualifier 1 between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant on May 19 in Qualifier 2, which will decide the second participant of the final on May 21.
KKR, who lost four out of seven matches in the latter half of the season, will have to play out of their skins to make it to the second qualifier. In the last game against Mumbai Indians, their batting looked to have run out of patience and were guilty of poor shot selection more often than not.
KKR were the team to beat early on in the season but they seemed to have peaked too early.
The likes of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine will have their task cut out at the top of the order with the likes of India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar on song having 25 scalps this seasons in 13 games and pacer Mohammed Siraj, who was bought for Rs 2.6 crore by SRH after his brilliant bowling in domestic matches, taking four wickets in the must-win game against Gujarat Lions to help Hyderabad qualify for the play-offs, in their ranks.
Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan has also been a revelation, bagging 17 wickets so far.
Besides Lynn and Narine, KKR have Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa, who have scored 396 and 386 runs respectively.
Gambhir too was in form in the first half of the season but seemed a off-colour in the business end and the skipper, who is placed in the third spot in the most runs list with 454 runs, will hope to led from the front.
As far as KKR’s bowling is concerned, Umesh Yadav and Kuldeep Yadav have been on song, but will have to stop red-hot David Warner. Sunrisers, on the other hand, won eight games while lost five in their 14 league games to end the league stage at third position with 17 points.
The team cemented their play-offs berth on the back of a resounding eight-wicket win over Gujarat in their last league match. Skipper Warner has been at his imperious best, scoring 600-plus runs in back-to-back seasons.
He was the league’s second-highest run-scorer during the franchise’s maiden triumph last year. Southpaw Shikhar Dhawan has found form too. Dhawan has scored 468 runs so far this season, which forced selectors to pick him for the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy.
Hyderabad would also like Yuvraj Singh, who started the season with a bang hammering 70 not out in the tournament opener against Bangalore, to get runs. He has aggregated only 243 runs from 11 matches with a couple of half-centuries.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa and Umesh Yadav.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (captain), Tanmay Agarwal, Ricky Bhui, Bipul Sharma, Ben Cutting, Shikhar Dhawan, Eklavya Dwivedi, Moises Henriques, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Siddarth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ben Laughlin, Abhimanyu Mithun, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammed Siraj, Mustafizur Rahman, Ashish Nehra, Naman Ojha, Rashid Khan, Vijay Shankar, Barinder Sran, Pravin Tambe, Kane Williamson, Yuvraj Singh.