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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

IPL 2018: Kolkata Knight Riders eye win against Sunrisers Hyderabad to book playoffs spot

Kolkata Knight Riders will have no margin for error when they face hosts Sunrisers Hyderabad in a crucial IPL 2018 game at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad on Saturday.

cricket Updated: May 18, 2018 18:53 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
If Kolkata Knight Riders defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, they will qualify for the IPL 2018 playoffs.
If Kolkata Knight Riders defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, they will qualify for the IPL 2018 playoffs. (PTI)

The Indian Premier League (IPL) finds itself in a familiar spot as the business end approaches. Four matches remain in the league stage and yet the four teams for playoffs have not been finalised, just like in previous editions.

Run rates will make the difference as five teams eye a final dash for the last two playoff spots available. Kolkata Knight Riders, however, have a chance to steer clear of the pack with a win against Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Saturday.

READ | IPL 2018: Royal Challengers Bangalore aim to carry momentum in virtual shootout with Rajasthan Royals

Currently on 14 points from 13 matches, the Dinesh Karthik-led KKR can seal the third spot, or even the second, with a win. The task is easier said than done against SRH, who have lost just one match at home this season (against Chennai Super Kings) and have already sealed a top-two spot.

Armed with IPL 2018’s best bowling line-up, the Kane Williamson-led SRH have been the side to beat this edition. The Kiwi batsman has led by example, scoring eight half-centuries in 13 games. Going into their last match, KKR could not have expected a tougher opponent.

READ | ‘Spiderman’ AB de Villiers defies gravity with stunning IPL catch for RCB

Karthik, Kuldeep’s form

KKR too have a leader who prefers action over words. Karthik is the team’s top-scorer with a tally of 412, while the likes of Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana are yet to show consistency.

However, KKR’s win over Rajasthan Royals in their previous game indicated that they are trying hard to tide over the issues. As Sunil Narine got out after yet another blinder, Lynn showed maturity in curbing instincts and led KKR’s chase. Karthik pitched in once more while Rana and Andre Russell played their part.

READ | Manish Pandey rues Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling display vs Royal Challengers Bangalore

The biggest gain for KKR, however, was Kuldeep Yadav’s four-wicket haul. All his wickets were between overs seven and 14. The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here has seen SRH consistently dent their rivals in those overs, with Rashid Khan being the wrecker-in-chief.

The competition between the two spinners may very well add spice to the contest.

Slow pitch

The slow pitch here has got variable bounce and batsmen have often found it difficult to go for the big shots. In the six matches this edition, only once has a team (CSK) scored more than 165 batting first.

Patience has often given rich dividends here and Williamson is a prime example. The Kiwi has dug deep to steer his team out of danger on numerous occasions. The KKR batsmen can very well take a leaf out of Williamson’s book going into a game where a loss can make matters complex for them.

The weather forecast indicates thunderstorm in several parts of the city on Saturday.

What is at stake

SRH vs KKR: A victory will guarantee KKR a spot in the last four. They are on 14 points and will move to 16, ahead of any of the next four teams who, though in contention, can move to 14 points at the most. A loss, however, will seriously hurt KKR’s chances as their net run rate is in the negative and if both RCB and MI win their last games, then they will leapfrog KKR to move into the final four alongside Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings. For SRH, this game is important to cement the top spot early.