Can Daredevils pull down rising Sunrisers?

Sunrisers Hyderabad, with 14 points from 10 games and the best net run-rate, has won four matches on the trot and will look to override Delhi Daredevils at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Thursday.

After his struggles earlier in the season, Shikhar Dhawan has started contributing upfront with the bat.   -  K. R. Deepak

With 14 points (seven wins) from 10 matches and the best net run-rate (+0.558), Sunrisers Hyderabad, led by David Warner, start favourite against fourth-placed Delhi Daredevils (10 points from nine games) under lights at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.

It is increasingly becoming clear this season that Sunrisers Hyderabad, the table topper, has the most effective attack of all. That its bowlers bowled their hearts out to successfully defend achievable totals against the formidable Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiants in Visakhapatnam in back-to-back games is a testimony to this.

Warner enjoys the kind of liberty that not many captains in the current IPL do. Moises Henriques summed it up aptly after beating Dhoni’s men in Vizag last night: "Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) is a genius who always gives great starts. Ashish Nehra is a reliable, crafty customer, hitting the wicket hard. We all have different roles."

This is exactly the reason why Sunrisers' attack is so difficult to play against on any pitch. Besides, the team has the ever-dangerous left-arm duo of Barinder Sran and Mustafizur Rahman, who ensure that the heat is always on the batsmen with their accuracy and swing.

With regard to Sunrisers' batting, in-form Warner should be delighted with the way his partner Shikhar Dhawan is rising to the occasion in the second half of the season after the early blues. Though the middle-order struggled against the leg-spin of Adam Zampa the other night, it will be interesting to see whether Warner will replace Kane Williamson with Eoin Morgan.

On the other hand, Delhi, which lost to Kings XI Punjab in Mohali, has to really put up a stand-out performance to get the better of the host.

Delhi Daredevils' batting line-up has familiar names like in-form Quinton de Kock, Sanju Samson, captain Jean-Paul Duminy, Karun Nair and Carlos Brathwaite, who can help his team’s cause with his big hitting.

What should be a huge disappointment for Delhi is the poor run of Pawan Negi, the richest Indian player in this IPL (bought at Rs. 8.5 crore), who has scored only 51 runs in five matches.

In bowling, Delhi will once again bank on its leg-spinners Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir — it is not certain whether both of them or only one of them will play on Thursday — with new-ball bowlers Zaheer Khan, Chris Morris and Mohammad Shami expected to provide the early breakthroughs.

By all means, it will be a major surprise if Daredevils get the better of Sunrisers, which is on song, literally.

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