After letting the opening encounters slip away with disastrous batting performances, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad will be aiming to shrug off their fortune as they face each other in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Of all things, their middle-order will be under the scanner.
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Although new additions to the squad meant the performances of the last year doesn’t hold any bearing, Kolkata Knight Riders got a reality check in the opening encounter against Mumbai Indians. So damning was their batting and bowling performance that it left scratching for excuses, but all that they will want to change at their hub in Abu Dhabi when Sunrisers Hyderabad will come as a visitor.
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The way Sunrisers Hyderabad let the game slip against Royal Challengers Bangalore, it became the talk of the town but in more ways than one, showed their over-reliance on their openers, who scored as many as 51.08% of runs last year for them. Can they afford to bring their all-round self to the fore and ensure it doesn’t become five in five? Well, your guess is as good as mine.
The Aussie has always been Sunrisers’ major batsman, irrespective of who they are playing against, but against Kolkata Knight Riders, he has an affinity to score big runs. In his last two knocks against the franchise, Warner made 152 runs, including two half-centuries, at a strike rate of 167.03, which the Hyderabad-based franchise will look to bank on.
Not only because he has decided to bat at No.3, but a lot also depends on how Karthik tackles Sunrisers Hyderabad pacers upfront. If Sunil Narine fails once again, Karthik will have to build the innings and subsequently will have the responsibility of building the base.
Irrespective of the fact that Cummins gave away 49 runs in three overs, he is an important cog in the wheel for Kolkata Knight Riders who will want to exploit him with the new ball. Given Warner faced tangible problems against Jofra Archer in the England tour, Cummins might exploit the same with the new ball against his Aussie teammate and might do it mighty fashion.
Teams are choosing to play Rashid Khan out before taking on the attack on other bowlers but that makes Rashid such a compelling proposition for the fact that the leg-spinner bowled at least two overs in the death. It might become the scene again with Russell donning the role of a finisher for Sunrisers Hyderabad against whom Russell has a modest record with an average less than 15. Rashid will have a major role to play in containing him and more so in dismissing him, which growingly looks like a thing that is certain to happen when these two sides face each other.
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
When to Watch: Sep 26, 7.30 PM IST
Where to Watch: Star Sports Network and Hotstar (in India)