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IPL 2018: Sunrisers Hyderabad look to stop Kings XI Punjab juggernaut

It will be a battle of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling vs. the in-form batting of Kings XI Punjab when the two face off in an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 match in Hyderabad on Thursday.

cricket Updated: Apr 25, 2018 21:03 IST
Abhishek Paul
Abhishek Paul
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
IPL 2018,Sunrisers Hyderabad,Kings XI Punjab
It will be a battle of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling vs. the in-form batting of Kings XI Punjab when the two face off in an Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 match in Hyderabad on Thursday. (AFP)

Defending a sub-120 total in T20 cricket is no small task. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) achieved this rare feat in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 when they dismissed Mumbai Indians for a mere 87 in an away game on Tuesday.

It was only the fourth time in IPL that a team defended a less than run-a-ball total. While it speaks volumes of the bowling depth of Sunrisers Hyderabad, the excitement surrounding the achievement fails to hide the former champions’ one weak link – their batting.

Against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) on Thursday, the Kane Williamson-led side’s ailing batting line-up may again be prodded with some tough questions. The last time the two teams faced, Chris Gayle starred with a 63-ball 104 as SRH failed to chase a 194-run target.

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In their six matches so far, SRH have chased on five occasions. They won three of those games with the target below 150. On the two occasions that the target was above 150, the 2016 champions lost.

Williamson lone warrior

As the two teams gear up for another clash, with KXIP on a four-match winning run, SRH batsmen would hope to complement their bowlers’ good work.

Despite the thrilling win against Mumbai Indians, one can’t miss the fact that SRH were all out for 118. Captain Williamson has been the lone consistent performer with the bat for SRH, with three half-centuries so far, while the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Manish Pandey are yet to do justice to their reputations.

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The KXIP side is loaded with big-hitters from Gayle to KL Rahul to Aaron Finch. Though Gayle missed their previous engagement against Delhi Daredevils with a sore muscle, even then KXIP’s batting looks solid.

And to give them a fitting reply, only a bowlers’ good show may not be enough.

Injury problems

Just before the Mumbai Indians game, SRH received a jolt as Australian medium pacer Billy Stanlake was ruled out of the 2018 IPL with a fractured finger. Bhuvneshwar Kumar also did not play the match with a back injury.

However, SRH’s bowling depth is the best amongst all the teams in this IPL. Despite the senior duo’s absence youngsters like Rashid Khan, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma and Basil Thampi stepped up against Mumbai. They might have to take added responsibility if Bhuvneshwar is not declared fit for the KXIP match.

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The Ravichandran Ashwin-led side has been riding high. Their batting top order of Gayle, Rahul and Nair has clicked well while in their bowling department two foreign recruits Andrew Tye (nine wickets) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (six wickets) have been the consistent performers.

But the SRH side that KXIP will face here on Tuesday will be mentally in a strong position after winning the low-scoring thriller. And if SRH batsmen can give a better account of themselves, KXIP may be up for a tough challenge.

First Published: Apr 25, 2018 21:00 IST