This season: Sunrisers and KKR split their games in the group stages. KKR defended 172 at Eden Gardens in the first meeting. David Warner’s response was a sensational 59-ball 126 in Hyderabad.
Overall: Sunrisers have won just four of 11 games against KKR. They won the Eliminator last season at the Feroz Shah Kotla, though.
Peaking early and losing momentum are results of various factors: fatigue, unavailability of key personnel, morale and even losing tosses. Going into the playoffs, those issues can hinder confidence, one of the most influential traits in professional sport. Sunrisers won six of their first 10 games. KKR won seven in the same period. In eight games since, both teams won three in total.
Sunrisers have managed change effectively. Having had to alter their combination and personnel, Sunrisers had reserves – Kane Williamson, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammad Siraj, Vijay Shankar and Bipul Sharma – who made telling contributions. They may be called on again – Ashish Nehra will play no further part this season with a hamstring injury and Yuvraj Singh will undergo a fitness test on Tuesday evening. Nabi, with a finger injury, is also doubtful.
KKR, on the other hand, have not found the right combination for their top order. Opening with Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn has cut Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan’s roles to cameos. The uncontrollables – Chris Woakes and Shakib Al Hasan’s departure for national duty, and Suryakumar Yadav and Nathan Coulter-Nile’s injuries – damaged their balance.
Still, plenty has gone right for both teams. Either, or both, of David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan have performed for Sunrisers. Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have been potent weapons at any stage of an innings. For KKR, their opening combination has put them ahead of games, leaving their finishers to execute their new roles. Bowlers from both sides have stepped up and delivered too.
In T20s, any player can break a game open, but under the pressure of a knockout, who will?
The likely XIs
Sunrisers Hyderabad 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Moises Henriques, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Mohammad Nabi, 7 Naman Ojha (wk), 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Rashid Khan, 10 Mohammad Siraj, 11 Siddarth Kaul
Kolkata Knight Riders 1 Sunil Narine, 2 Chris Lynn, 3 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 4 Robin Uthappa (wk), 5 Manish Pandey, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Colin de Grandhomme, 8 Kuldeep Yadav, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Ankit Rajpoot
Start with a spin-pace combination against Narine and Lynn. Narine has struggled against short-pitched bowling this season. He has scored 214 runs in 120 balls, but just 18 off 18 short-pitched deliveries and has been dismissed four times. That length may not work against Lynn though; he has scored 77 runs off 28 short balls, a strike rate of 275.
Although Lynn hasn’t been terrible against spin, slower bowling could be used to stall him. He has scored 178 runs off 85 balls against pace, but 107 runs off 68 balls against spin. Rashid or Nabi are plausible options against Lynn’s pyrotechnics.
Stats that matter
- Warner and Dhawan have scored 50.07% of Sunrisers’ runs (1072 of 2141). In the previous season, they contributed 53% of the team’s runs. No other team has had two players who contributed even 40%.
- Narine is the only batsman to have been dismissed four times to short balls this season.
- Sunrisers’ top-three batsmen have averaged 45.06, the best for any team. KKR have the next-best average with 36.83.
- KKR’s bowlers have all made significant contributions. Their top two wicket-takers – Chris Woakes (17) and Umesh Yadav (14) – have taken 38.75% of their wickets, the lowest contributions from the top-two bowlers for any team.
- Kuldeep Yadav has taken seven wickets in the last five overs of an innings – the joint most for a spinner.
- KKR’s batting power is at the top of their innings. They have scored the most runs in the Powerplay, with an average of 58.74 per game. They have the highest run-rate in the middle overs too – 1079 runs at 8.57 runs per over. They fade away towards the end overs though, scoring just 427 runs at 8.45 runs per over, the least among all teams.
Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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