Same teams face off at the same stage of the tournament, but at a different venue: in essence, therefore, the IPL 2017 eliminator is a repeat of last season. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) finished third and fourth on the points table last season too, and played the do-or-die contest at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad.
This time round, they will face off at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, with the same objective of going a step further. With equal strengths and weaknesses, SRH vs KKR should be a wonderful contest, particularly with this being a proper knockout match.
SRH vs KKR head-to-head and Eliminator records
Following their home win in match 37, Sunrisers trail Knight Riders 4-7 in 11 matches so far.
Since its inception in IPL 2011, Kolkata (2011 and 2016) and Hyderabad (2013 and 2016) have played in two eliminators each, one against each other and another against other opposition. Knight Riders have lost both times they have featured in the eliminator and Sunrisers have a 50-50 record, winning one and losing one.
Sunrisers won six of their seven league matches at home, but they struggled for results away from Hyderabad. They won just two of their six away matches, with the clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore being washed out and the two teams sharing the points.
Sunrisers’s poor away form made qualification for the playoffs a difficult task and they just about managed to in the end. But, with an eight-wicket win against Gujarat Lions in their last league match, David Warner and co. go into tomorrow’s crunch match feeling good about themselves.
Knight Riders lost four of their last five league matches and are not the side they will have liked to be at this stage of an IPL season. Make no mistake, KKR are a very good team with plenty of Twenty20 specialists and match-winners, but Gautam Gambhir and co. have more questions than answers ahead of Wednesday night’s contest.
If you go by rationale, though, form goes out of the window in knockout matches and rounds. And KKR will hope that their quality shines through against what is an equally good and a resourceful Sunrisers outfit.
Eliminator: SRH vs KKR playing XI
Sunrisers and Knight Riders have had a few injury concerns ahead of the playoffs, with the likes of Nathan Coulter-Nile, Yuvraj Singh and Ashish Nehra missing the matches leading up to this knockout round.
For Sunrisers, we do not yet have a fitness update on Yuvraj Singh, who suffered a small finger injury while fielding against Mumbai in his team’s penultimate league match. In case the stylish southpaw is match-fit, expect him to come in place of Deepak Hooda. Neck spasm troubled Nehra during the earlier part of the season and then, in his comeback match against Rising Pune on May 6, the Delhi pacer suffered a hamstring pull. Tom Moody confirmed earlier this evening, that Nehra will play no further part in IPL 2017.
SRH’s probable playing XI vs KKR: 1. David Warner (c), 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Moises Henriques, 4. Vijay Shankar, 5. Deepak Hooda/Yuvraj Singh, 6. Naman Ojha, 7. Mohammad Nabi, 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Mohammed Siraj, and 11. Siddarth Kaul
Actual playing XI for Sunrisers: 1. David Warner (c), 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Kane Williamson, 4. Vijay Shankar, 5. Yuvraj Singh, 6. Naman Ojha, 7. Chris Jordan, 8. Rashid Khan, 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Bipul Sharma, and 11. Siddarth Kaul
Knight Riders are likely to recall the fit-again Coulter-Nile, who was back in training and bowled at full throttle in the build-up to the match. The Australian pacer is likely to replace his Trans-Tasman counterpart, Trent Boult. The M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch has been a touch drier this IPL season and if the pitch to be used is spinner-friendly, Knight Riders might field two wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla.
KKR’s probable playing XI vs SRH: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Chris Lynn, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Colin de Grandhomme, 7. Sunil Narine, 8. Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9. Umesh Yadav, 10. Piyush Chawla/Ankit Singh Rajpoot, and 11. Kuldeep Yadav
Actual playing XI for Knight Riders: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Chris Lynn, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Ishank Jaggi, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Trent Boult, 7. Sunil Narine, 8. Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9. Umesh Yadav, 10. Piyush Chawla, and 11. Suryakumar Yadav
The eliminator does not have an underdog; only two well-matched teams who have one common goal. The fact that Sunrisers are a more settled side going into the playoffs stands them in good stead, with the likes of Warner, Dhawan, Henriques, Rashid, Bhuvneshwar, and Kaul having almost played every match so far. Knight Riders, though, will believe that Sunrisers are over-reliant on Warner, dismissing whom could mean you’ve won half the battle.
So, in my opinion, if Warner fires with the bat, Sunrisers will have a good chance of beating Knight Riders. Otherwise, I fancy Gambhir and co. Who do you fancy?