Can Knight Riders tame Sunrisers again?

After their encounter on Sunday, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders trade blows in the eliminator that is expected to generate much heat at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday. After all, at stake is the opportunity to have a go at the title.

Mustafizur Rahman (far right) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (third from right) will be key to Sunrisers' bowling effectiveness against Knight Riders.   -  K. V. S. Giri

Is there a calm artist in the Indian Premier League? Spraying the ball into the galleries with brute power — a combination of a helpful willow and an aggressive mind — the batsmen have come to redefine the very essence of batting. They call the shots against some of the best bowlers in business. What about the bowlers? Empathy is all they get but no solution to their misery.

There are brute belters of the ball everywhere. The boundaries get shorter and encourage mayhem in the middle. The spectators love it. This is different cricket. Yusuf Pathan is a hit with the audience as he sends the ball soaring into the sky. But it does not help him reclaim a spot in the national squad. Therein lies the paradox.

David Warner, Pathan, Andre Russell (if he recovers from injury), are known to hit a six at will literally. It is the trusted scoring shot in the Indian Premier League. Wait and swing. And swing it hard. Sometimes, even the mishit lands beyond the fence in front or behind. Astonishing stuff indeed that mocks at the coaching manual.

Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders trade blows in the eliminator that is expected to generate much heat at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Wednesday. After all, at stake is the opportunity to have a go at the title. The holder, Mumbai Indians, has been packed off and Sunrisers Hyderabad can back itself to tame the marauding Knight Riders.

A league which is promoted by the administrators, players present and former, as a stepping stone to international cricket, is looking at tackling the monotony factor in its ninth edition. Injury to key players has cost some teams, notably Ashish Nehra missing action at this stage for Sunrisers. There are issues related to the next edition — the Board has hinted it may move overseas. Not everything is good and acceptable in IPL but the players are hardly complaining.

Knight Riders' run machine v Sunrisers' seam attack

Sunrisers has demonstrated the significance of good bowling. It is feasible to place your faith in bowlers in this batsman-dominated tournament but the leader of this campaign, Nehra, will watch the action from England where he recovers from a hamstring injury. It can be a daunting task for Sunrisers to stop the Knight Riders' run-machine where Gautam Gambhir brings quality at the top.

Knight Riders has a formidable batting strength with the likes of Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey capable of dictating the result of the match with their innovative style. Off-spinner Sunil Narine may have lost some of his guile but continues to command respect with his accuracy. Russell’s injury can hurt Knight Riders even as it relies on Shakib Al Hasan’s all-round skills.

There is a calm artist in this league — the gifted Kane Williamson — but he has hardly got going. In the same camp, the wily Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the seamer with a Buddha-like composure, brings old world charm to the art of bowling — he swings, seams and varies the pace cleverly. With Mustafizur Rahman as his partner, Bhuvneshwar forms an ideal opening pair for any format of the game. Their success against the attacking Knight Riders shall decide the course of the contest.