GL v SRH: Batting strength v bowling might

Sunrisers Hyderabad will bank on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman, who have taken 37 wickets between them, to counter the Gujarat Lions batsmen who have amassed 2,161 runs this season.

Skipper Warner leads the Sunrisers' batting table with 686 runs.   -  g. ramakrishna

In 15 matches the Gujarat Lions batsmen have aggregated 2,161 runs, while Sunrisers Hyderabad has snapped up 77 wickets. Does this bit of trivia make their Qualifier 2 match a battle between the Lions batsmen and the Sunrisers bowlers? It could well be so at the Feroz Shah Kotla here on Friday. One can expect a combat of skills.

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With a place in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final beckoning, the penultimate match of the competition will test the temperament and cricketing acumen of some of the best players in the game. Sunrisers has executed its plans well and looks to extend its stay in the tournament. “That is the good thing about this team. Everyone is still willing to learn while we are still playing. Everyone is adapting as we are going along in this tournament,” opined Sunrisers skipper David Warner ahead of the match.

Warner leads the team’s batting table with 686 runs followed by Shikhar Dhawan, who is peaking towards crafting a match-defining knock. Kotla, his home ground, can be an inspiring stage for Dhawan, who must guard against early flamboyance in his innings. This batting pair’s efforts are complemented by the lethal combination of Bhuvneshwar Kumar (21 wickets) and the confident Mustafizur Rahman (16 wickets). Barinder Sran has adapted well too to give the Sunrisers attack the incisive edge over Lions.

Warner has tactically assessed the upcoming battle to be close. “Obviously both teams don’t really have any tall bowlers so you are going to have to use your skill and execution with the ball to reduce totals here definitely. We know who their key players are. They have got very good firing power.

“Dwayne Smith has been playing very well. He has been coming in and playing his game. And we know the two boys up front are going to come out hard, and that’s their game. That’s how they play,” he said.

Smith possesses the individual brilliance to swing a match on its head. His all-round proficiency (323 runs and 7 wickets) is the cushion that Lions has enjoyed in its debut season. The team has five batsmen (Suresh Raina, Smith, Aaron Finch, Dinesh Karthik and Brendon McCullum) who have crossed the 300-mark which showcases its collective strength. Dhawal Kulkarni and Dwayne Bravo have had encouraging success with the ball.

“For us,” averred Warner, “it is about starting well as a unit whether we bat or bowl first, make sure we execute our plans.” The same holds true for Lions, a team that has grown with every match. Sunrisers won both the league matches against Lions but the immediate past does not matter in this format as KKR learnt the other night. Expect a forceful meeting at the Kotla.