IPL 2019: Confident Sunrisers faces misfiring Knight Riders

Having lost its last four matches, Kolkata Knight Riders will be keen to turn it around when it faces Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium on Sunday.

David Warner (left) and Jonny Bairstow have been a prolific opening pair for Sunrisers Hyderabad.   -  AFP

It is the business-end of this edition of the Indian Premier League, and with the overseas players scheduled to join their respective national teams for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 from next week, clubs will be doubly keen to make optimum use of their availability for the next few games.

In this context, Sunrisers Hyderabad tops the list when it takes on Kolkata Knight Riders in a high-voltage contest at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Sunday.

The Dinesh Karthik-led Knight Riders badly needs a win here against the home team which has regained its confidence after an impressive win against Chennai Super Kings (sans the injured M. S. Dhoni).

Knight Riders would want its top three — Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine and Robin Uthappa — to fire before the classy Nitish Rana and the big-hitting Andre Russell provide the finishing touches. Rana and Russell were involved in a gallant chase in vain against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the previous game.

Rampaging Russell

Knight Riders is banking too heavily on the West Indian Russell, who is also battling discomfort in his left wrist and his back going for those hefty blows. To his credit, he has failed in only one innings in this edition. But even in a Twenty20 contest, to always depend on one such player to come good every time may be asking for too much. An exciting contest should be on between Russell and the leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who is too quick to give the same liberty to the batsman as Yuzvendra Chahal. Moreover, Rashid is more accurate.

Read | Bairstow happy to complement Warner for Sunrisers

The other real worry for Karthik is the profligacy of wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav. Yadav was hit all over in the previous game. If Knight Riders hopes to make serious amends, the onus will be on the bowlers to come good against a line-up which has some explosive batsmen at the top like David Warner, the leading run-getter this season so far, and the consistent Jonny Bairstow, who will not be available after the contest against Chennai on April 23, 2019.

Sunrisers badly needs Williamson to come good at No. 3 if the opening pair fails to come good.

In bowling, Sunrisers has the depth and variety and more importantly, the confidence, after the early disappointments. Rashid, especially, has been outstanding.