Navi Mumbai: A resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad would look to extend their three-match winning streak but have their task cut out against Punjab Kings, when the two sides square off in an IPL game here on Sunday.
Among a bunch of teams on six points each, both SRH and PBKS will go all out to snap the two crucial points to nose ahead in the race for play-offs. Sunrisers began their campaign with two defeats but bounced back with three successive wins – against Chennai Super Kings, Gujarat Titans and Kolkata Knight Riders – and look good for more, going by the trend of their improving performance.
Punjab Kings had a morale-boosting 12-run win over Mumbai Indians in their last outing and the Sunrisers would certainly know that the Mayank Agarwal-led side, who are in the third spot, would be a tough team to beat. All the three wins for the Sunrisers came while chasing and they have found a new hero each time.
Openers Abhishek Sharma and skipper Kane Williamson, after playing match-winning knocks against CSK and Gujarat Titans respectively, had a failure against KKR. But with a wide range of shots at his disposal, left-handed Sharma would be aiming to give an aggressive start.
After getting the starts, Rahul Tripathi’s moment of glory came against KKR when he struck a 37-ball 71 and ditto for Aiden Markaram, whose 36-ball unbeaten 68 helped the team go over the line. With the swashbuckling Nicholos Pooran, who can be brutal when in full flow, in their ranks, the Sunrisers can set or chase down a big total.
Rahul, Pooran and Markaram will have to once again shoulder responsibility in the middle-order. But they are up against a strong and varied Punjab attack led by South African speedster Kagiso Rabada, who has been right on the money. Rabad would, however, need support from Vaibhav Arora, who bled 43 runs against Mumbai Indians, and the fast improving Arshdeep Singh.
The weakest link in the Punjab attack is probably spinner Rahul Chahar, who was taken to task in the last game, where he leaked 44 runs. Chahar will have to step up and deliver as the SRH batters will be looking to target him.
The Sunrisers pacers showed why they were among the best in the business in their previous match. Marco Jansen, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umran Malik shared seven wickets among them against KKR and did the bulk of damage. With his angles and variations, Jansen is proving to be the opposition batters’ nightmare while yorker specialist Natarajan and pace sensation Malik along with senior player Bhuvneshwar Kumar have contributed with crucial wickets.
In the absence of Washington Sundar, left-armer Jagadeesha Suchith did pretty well against KKR and he may retain his place. For Punjab, the biggest development is that the flamboyant opener Shikhar Dhawan is back among the runs.
Dhawan, who smashed 70 against MI, and Mayank Agarwal will have to once again give the side a solid start. The middle-order has hard-hitters in Johnny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Jitesh Sharma, Shahrukh Khan and Odean Smith, and one of the batters will need to take responsibility if the top-order falters.
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