Match Preview With campaigns that coughed and spluttered about in the UAE, both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad will have one big target from Sunday’s game: a momentum-granting win. Both teams are in the bottom half of the points table with similar figures of two wins in five games, although Royal Challengers are aheadRead More IPL2014: 24th match – Royal Challenger Bangalore v Sunrisers Hyderabad, 4 May, 2014
Four days off is normally a prospect the working man welcomes with glee, but in cricket, especially amid the manic assembly line of matches in the IPL, it threatens the momentum of a team. Delhi Daredevils won their last match, yet a prolonged break has left them in seventh place. The opportunity to climb the rungs arrives in the form of three matches in five days – all at home – the first of which is against Rajasthan Royals.
Daredevils have a history of living and dying by their streaks. In 2009, they knocked off eight of their first 10 opponents to canter into the semi-finals. They enjoyed similar fortunes in 2012, when a string of four victories set up a top-of-the-table finish. Last season, however, was relentlessly bitter as they inaugurated and signed off their campaign with six-match losing streaks.
There’s nothing like the comfort of home venues, specially for IPL teams, and Saturday’s match against Kings XI Punjab may just be the fresh start Mumbai Indians are looking for. They were unbeaten in all home games last season and will hope they can keep the table-toppers from ruining their winning streak at the Wankhede.
Mumbai have some of the biggest names in cricket as part of their think-tank, but their squad selections have been baffling. An Indian batsman would have been ideal for the side, but if they opt for Simmons, it would mean that either Ben Dunk or Corey Anderson would have to be left out.
Losing a match on the boundary count after the scores are tied even in the Super Over can be immensely disappointing. Especially when you needed 16 going into the last two overs of your chase with six wickets in hand. Five days before going down in this manner to Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders were riding the opposite extreme against Royal Challengers Bangalore, who needed 29 off 26 with eight wickets remaining but were stopped short by two runs. As their coach Trevor Bayliss put it, Knight Riders have seen the “highs and lows” of the T20 format in these two games.
The UAE was almost exclusively low for Gautam Gambhir, but he broke his horror run of 0, 0, 0 & 1 by making 45 against Royals. While he did consume 44 deliveries, his knock has to be a big positive for Knight Riders just as the IPL shifts back to India. Gambhir and his side have had just two days to recover from that Super Over, and also shift base from the UAE to Ranchi.
Mumbai Indians have had running problems with the opening partnership in several seasons, and this season has been no different. By their fourth game, they realised that the man who has reinvented himself successfully as a limited-overs opener for India is also an option at the top of their order. Before that, Rohit Sharma was coming in with too much to do after the pair of Michael Hussey and Aditya Tare had failed to provide the kind of starts their side needed.
With fewer games per side this season, Mumbai Indians cannot really afford to keep piling up the losses. Sunrisers Hyderabad are in only a slightly better position with one victory. Their batting looked top-heavy coming into the season, and the fears have come true so far, with a thin middle order unable to step up when the powerful batsmen do not fire upfront. At least the strengths and weaknesses are clearer in Sunrisers’ case. Mumbai Indians, as has been the case in the past too, seem to be misfiring without any standout reason.
After one run from four innings, the ‘Wanted’ posters will be all over the UAE, promising a hefty reward for Gautam Gambhir’s batting form. The usually intense Gambhir has been managing a smile or two every time he has been questioned about his lack of runs, and it has helped him that Knight Riders have won two of their four matches this season despite some shaky batting.
Even if his barren spell extends, Gambhir is pretty much assured of his place in the side, since there are no reliable alternatives in the squad – Manvinder Bisla and Debabrata Das form the Indian batting back-up. Whether that will help him or not, what will certainly not help Gambhir is that he’s up against Rajasthan Royals, a team that rolled over the superstar batting line-up of Royal Challengers Bangalore for 70 two days ago. Neither will the woeful form of Yusuf Pathan, who is unrecognisable from the heavy-hitting batsman whom IPL teams were clamouring for a few years ago.
Like Knight Riders, Royals also have two defeats and two wins. They have been quick to axe players who were crucial last season – James Faulkner and Brad Hodge. They turned to Tim Southee and Kane Richardson to provide the pace in the attack to complement the slower Indian bowlers, Pravin Tambe, Rajat Bhatia and Stuart Binny.
The ball has done plenty under lights in Abu Dhabi – scores so far have been 122 for 7, 135 for 6, 84 all out and 109 all out – and the toss could prove pivotal to deciding the fate of the match.