Date and time: September 26, Saturday; 19:30 IST
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Kolkata Knight Riders vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2020 preview
The start to their seasons has not been ideal in more ways than one, but Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders have enough quality in their ranks to register their first points of IPL 2020 when they face each other at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Kane Williamson missed Sunrisers’ opening fixture with a quadriceps injury, captain David Warner said. Whether he would have played had he been fit is difficult to say. But Mitchell Marsh’s injury came as a further setback for Sunrisers, who have roped in the West Indies Test captain Jason Holder. Holder’s a good replacement based on his form in the recently-concluded Caribbean Premier League, where he was amongst the runs and wickets for Barbados Tridents. According to the IPL’s COVID-19 protocols, he would have to undergo the mandatory six-day quarantine and clear the tests before joining with the squad.
KKR have assembled such a star-studded squad that expectations of them are high. But their display against Mumbai Indians wasn’t suggestive of a team with their resources. Captain Dinesh Karthik and coach Brendon McCullum attributed the performance to “rustiness”, which has been a buzzword during the first week of IPL 2020. Pat Cummins and Eoin Morgan went straight into the match after finishing the mandatory quarantine and Karthik said he didn’t “want to be too harsh” on his players because it was their first outing.
KKR, though, have a couple of areas to ponder over.
One of them is Andre Russell’s batting position. In a steep run-chase against Mumbai, he batted at No. 6 and walked in to bat in the 12th over, with the required run-rate nudging 15 runs an over. His IPL career strike-rate is a tick above 185 runs per 100 balls, but against good bowling attacks, even Russell needs time in the middle before he can do any sort of damage.
Another player who’s integral to KKR is Kuldeep Yadav. Against Mumbai, he came up against two batsmen (Suryakumar Yadav and Rohit Sharma) who picked his variations with aplomb. However, wickets have dried up for Kuldeep in the last 12-15 months and it’s hard to ignore the feeling he’s trying too hard to recapture his bowling form from early last year, when his variations often did the trick for him though he rarely hurried the batsmen in the air or off the surface. As the frontline spinner in the squad, his diminishing returns won’t do Knight Riders any good.
Sunrisers, too, must address their batting order after Royal Challengers Bangalore exposed their inexperienced middle order in a tight run-chase. Manish Pandey, who batted at No. 3, probably needs to drop down a position, while the experience of Mohammad Nabi at No. 6 will lend more stability.
KKR vs SRH head to head in IPL
Kolkata Knight Riders lead Sunrisers Hyderabad 10-7 in the head to head record.
The teams won a match apiece last season, with KKR winning in Hyderabad and Sunrisers in Kolkata.
This will be the first time they meet each other in the UAE.
Abu Dhabi pitch report and conditions
Two matches have been played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium and the pitch has provided an even contest between bat and ball each time. The bounce has been even, bowlers presenting an upright seam have extracted movement and batsmen have scored freely with the ball sliding onto the bat.
Those characteristics are unlikely to change when Kolkata Knight Riders host Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday.
Abu Dhabi weather forecast on September 26
A maximum of 36-degree Celsius is forecast on Saturday, with the temperature dropping to 29-degree Celsius in the evening.
The humidity, at 77 per cent, is likely to take a toll on the players.
IPL 2020: KKR vs SRH playing 11
Kolkata Knight Riders’s playing 11 for their opening fixture didn’t feature left-field selections. Prasidh Krishna’s absence (if not due to an injury) was a surprise, with Kerala seamer Sandeep Warrier playing ahead of him. If Krishna’s fit, he could come in for Warrier, given that he bowls up front with the new ball, can nail the yorker at the death and is a couple of yards quicker than Warrier.
Probable KKR playing 11: 1 Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Shubman Gill, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Pat Cummins, 8 Nikhil Naik/Rinku Singh, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Shivam Mavi, 11 Sandeep Warrier/Prasidh Krishna
A season-ending ankle injury to Mitchell Marsh means Sunrisers Hyderabad are forced into a change. Nabi is the like-for-like replacement for the Western Australian all-rounder, though Williamson’s return to fitness could tip the scales in his favour given the team’s fragile middle order. Wriddhiman Saha was, somewhat surprisingly, left out of the playing 11 for the first match. He could come in for Priyam Garg, though it might mean Saha takes the wicketkeeping gloves from Jonny Bairstow.
Probable Sunrisers Hyderabad playing 11: 1 David Warner (c), 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Priyam Garg/Wriddhiman Saha, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Abhishek Sharma, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Thangarasu Natarajan
Team selection could be a key factor in the final outcome of the match. Kolkata Knight Riders are the more well-rounded side with firepower in their batting and bowling (though they were docile in all departments against Mumbai), but Sunrisers Hyderabad have historically done well when they have been considered the underdogs.