As IPL-15 enters its business, every game becomes crucial. One such game will be played at the MCA Stadium here on Saturday between Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad, where a win is almost a must, while a loss could mean a decisive blow to the chances of making it to the play-offs.
KKR, with 10 points from 12 games, need a win more desperately that SRH, who have a game in hand over them. A loss will put KKR out of the play-ff race. SRH, with 10 points from 11 games, also need a win to keep alive their hopes of making the play-offs. However, a loss for Kane Williamson’s side won’t put them out of the race, at least mathematically.
Apart from the near must-win situation, both teams have their own set of challenges. KKR, with just two wins from the last five games, have had a patchy season. They made as many as five changes to their playing XI for their last game, against Mumbai Indians. Some of those changes worked as KKR won the game comfortably. However, just when one thought that KKR might have found their best XI, they have been forced to make a change for Saturday’s game. Pat Cummins, who had played only four of the first 10 games, and was brought back to the playing XI for game No.11 against MI, has departed for Australia to recover from a hip injury.
KKR top the charts for losing the most number of wickets in the Powerplay. They also have the lowest run-rate in the Powerplay. None of their opening batting combinations have been successful so far, and it won’t be easy to correct any of those stats against the likes of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Umran Malik & Co.
Although the Sunrisers go into the game with slightly less pressure than KKR, they are battling poor form. They have lost four games on the trot. Having been bowled out for 125 in their last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, it will be a challenge for the Sunrisers’ batsmen to find some form on a pitch that has offered something to bowlers throughout the tournament. Sunrisers can take confidence from the fact that they have beaten KKR earlier this season.
Teams have successfully defended totals at the MCA Stadium in the last six games, so it won’t be a surprise if the trend of batting first continues for the last game of the season on this ground.