Team News – Kolkata Knight Riders
In Shubman Gill, KKR have a fantastic young top-order batsman who can easily shift gears, while the likes of Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and veteran Karthik, who’s free from the captaincy burden, can form the core of their Indian batting. Then there is Morgan who will look to bat through the overs while hoping that 2019 MVP Andre Russell gets back to his explosive touch after a quiet IPL 2020.
Another West Indian who flopped big time in the UAE was Sunil Narine. Whether it was his suspect bowling action or his failing against the short ball, Narine, who was instrumental in their twin triumphs in 2012 and 2014, looked a pale shadow of his past. It’s time that they think beyond the Trinidadian and try out Shakib Al Hasan, their buy in this year’s auction.
On the slow Chepauk strip, all eyes would be on the new ”Knight” and 40-year-old Harbhajan Singh, who will aim to make maximum impact. They also have a mystery spinner in Varun Chakravarthy who struck it rich in absence of Narine last year but his fitness remains a concern.
Team News – Sunrisers Hyderabad
One of the more consistent sides of IPL, SRH lost before the final hurdle, going down to runners-up Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 2 last year. SRH will be bolstered by the return of senior India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar who played just four games in last year’s IPL due to a hip injury.
Fresh from his fine form during the white-ball leg of the England series at home, Bhuvneshwar will spearhead their attack with yorker specialist T Natrajan by his side. Add Afghan star spinner Rashid Khan to the bowling line-up and the ”Orange Army” looks pretty balanced in their attack.
But the real strength of SRH will be their destructive top-order with the duo of David Warner and in-form Jonny Bairstow. They also have Kane Williamson and Manish Pandey, forming a solid top four.
But it remains to be seen who will play the role of the finisher for the SRH as they seem to lack muscle power teams badly need in the last five overs. KKR have a slight edge head-to-head as the Purple Brigade lead 12-7 against the Orange Army and last year they won both their matches.
Probably Playing 11
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Eoin Morgan, Nitish Rana, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russel, Pat Cummins, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Varun Chakravarthy/Harbhajan Singh, Prasidh Krishna.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Abdul Samad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan, Shahbaz Nadeem.
Sports Khabar Dream Team
Dinesh Karthik, Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Shubman Gill, Shakib Al Hasan, Andre Russell, Abhishek Sharma, Pat Cummins, Rashid Khan, T Natrajan