The clash between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Sunrisers Hyderabad would only be about furthering the safety prospects of two sides who are almost certain to make the playoffs. Both teams have won their respective last matches and would look to gain an upper hand and maintain the winning momentum in the lead-up to the playoffs.
The Knight Riders have their top three firing for them on a regular basis – and one of those three batsmen is Sunil Narine – and would hope that their middle order is tested to some extent, as the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, and Manish Pandey haven't had much batting practice so far in the league.
For the Sunrisers, the opening stand between David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan is crucial, as a good start, more often than not, lays the platform for the middle order to build an innings. Yuvraj Singh's recent slump might be a cause for concern but given the experience that the 35-year-old has, and his knack for comebacks, it would be too early to leave him out of the side.
As far as bowlers are concerned, the teams go neck-to-neck and boast of arguably two of the best bowling attacks in the IPL. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kuldeep Yadav have been serious revelations for the Knight Riders as they have led the pace bowling and spin attack, respectively.
They have been ably supported by Narine, Umesh Yadav, and Chris Woakes. The KKR bowling attack looks to be as good as it has ever been and it won't be easy for the Sunrisers, despite all the firepower in their batting, to score runs against them.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, have perhaps one of the best death bowlers currently active in T20 cricket in Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The purple cap holder has developed himself as a death bowler from a pure swing bowler, and his ability to nail the yorkers at the death has been second to none this season.
That he has been supported well by veterans like Ashish Nehra and youngsters like Rashid Khan and Siddharth Kaul speaks about the strength of the SRH bowling.
Match date: 30-04-2017
Match time: 2000 hours (IST)
Venue: Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium, Hyderabad
KKR love to chase down targets and hence it wouldn't be a surprise if the Gambhir wins the toss and elects to field first. The Knight Riders have won 5 matches while chasing whereas the Sunrisers have clinched just one encounter while chasing.
However, Hyderabad have defended well and have won 4 matches while defending targets. That also been because of the death bowling experts that they have, who have helped them seal the deal even if the target isn't very big.Therefore, the toss issues seem to be sorted here.
Coming to the totals, the Sunrisers are the only team to have scaled a total in excess of 200 twice in the league and on both occasions, have been successfully able to defend it. This makes the probability of tonight's game being a high-scoring affair a good one.
KKR, on the other hand, have not scaled 200 yet, but they have scored in excess of 170 seven times. If Sunrisers bat first and bat big, KKR might end up in trouble, as they haven't been around the 200-run mark in this season.
Add to that their relatively untested middle order and lower middle order and you would believe that the Knight Riders must try to restrict the Sunrisers around the 170-run mark. Otherwise, with the kind of death bowling and the experience that the Hyderabad bowlers possess, it may become quite difficult to hunt down a big target.
Hyderabad, on the other hand, would look to back their strength, which is good death bowling and look to bat first and bat big. Shikhar Dhawan showed some glimpses of form in the last game and coupled with Warner, holds the key at the top of the order. Yuvraj Singh would also look to convert his small cameos into big knocks.
If SRH bat first: Predicted Score: 200; Predicted winners: SRH
If KKR bat first: Predicted Score: 175; Predicted winners: KKR