Almost out of consideration for a place in the play-offs, the lower-ranked Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to play revelers when they take on the equally struggling Punjab Kings in Saturday’s battle for the laggards here. The Sunrisers suffered their seventh defeat on Wednesday after being blown away by the Delhi Capitals and their chances of qualifying for the playoffs seem less than slim as they only managed two points after eight games.
The Punjab, on the other hand, inexplicably found a way to wrest defeat from the clutches of victory against the Rajasthan Royals and will be desperate to find an answer to their problems after coming in seventh with six points from nine matches.
The Kings were well positioned to win their first IPL match at the UAE stage before committing a harakari in Kartik Tyagi’s latest knockdown. They lost two wickets and only scored one point when it took four to win against Rajasthan.
Despite being brimming with excellent Indian and foreign talent, the Punjab Kings have regularly spoiled matches and skipper KL Rahul will need to address their inconsistency.
The Punjab Kings have also lacked stability over the past 14 seasons with frequent changes of captains and coaches.
Their playing XI has also undergone a number of changes, which has drawn heavy criticism from former team mentor Virender Sehwag.
At batting, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal were one of the most dominant opening duos in the IPL.
Also in the last game, they scored 120 points in 11.5 overs, but neither of them were able to stay behind to finish the job.
While Chris Gayle can destroy any attack even at the age of 41, he was sidelined in the last game.
In the middle order, Nicholas Pooran, who had a horrific exit in the first phase, looked good in the last game before losing his bearings in the final even as Aiden Markram was stranded on the other side.
In the bowling department, Mohammed Shami was their first pitcher and he did well to set things back against RR.
Young Arshdeep Singh also came back with five wickets as he and Shami knocked out RR at 185 in the final game.
However, the Punjab spinners, especially England’s Adil Rashid, have disappointed and will need to step up their game in the coming weeks.
For Sunrisers, it is about making the most of the few remaining games and ending in style.
With season-leading scorer Johnny Bairstow retiring and Australian opener David Warner in poor shape, SRH struggled against Delhi.
Players like Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Kedar Jadhav, Abdul Samad also failed to capitalize on their departures, as SRH could only manage 134 in their last game.
Their bowling has been too dependent on the spin sensation Rashid Khan and it will be important for Khaleel Ahmed, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jason Holder to put on a solid show to give some respectability to the team’s campaign.
Kings of Punjab: KL Rahul (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Arshdeep Singh, Ishan Porel, Shahrukh Khan, Mohammed Shami, Nathan Ellis, Adil Rashid, Murugan Ashwin, Harpreet Brar, Moises Henriques, Chris Jordan, Aiden Markram, Mandeep Singh, Darsan Nalkande, Prabhsimran Singh, Ravi Bishnoi, Utkarsh Singh, Fabian Allen, Saurabh Kumar, Jalaj Saxena.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (captain), David Warner, Manish Pandey, Sherfane Rutherford, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Rashid Khan, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Abhishek Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Khahleaz Sharmaade, Natilara Sharmaade , Abdul Samad, J Suchith, Jason Holder, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Kedar Jadhav, Mujeeb-ur-Rahman, Jason Roy.
Beginning of March: 7:30 p.m.