IPL Eliminator: A keen knockout on the cards

Sunrisers Hyderabad will arrive at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium happy to have qualified while Kolkata Knight Riders will rue having slipped out of the top two. Neither side, though, has any margin for error.

David Warner (right) and his men will have to win every game from now on to defend their title.   -  K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) have taken different paths to Wednesday's Indian Premier League Eliminator. One team won to get here; the other lost. SRH will arrive at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium happy to have qualified while KKR will rue having slipped out of the top two.

Neither side, though, has any margin for error.

SRH will be without Ashish Nehra for the remainder of the tournament, the bowler having pulled his hamstring against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) earlier this month. Yuvraj Singh, who missed the game against Gujarat Lions owing to a sore finger, would undergo a fitness test, said SRH coach Tom Moody on Tuesday afternoon.

“We'll be giving him every opportunity to prove his fitness. At this stage we're reasonably confident,” he added. In the evening, though, Yuvraj batted in the nets without any visible discomfort, sending the ball sailing into the stands with regularity.

Spearheaded by the excellent Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has 25 wickets to his name this season, the bowling unit has delivered when the team has needed it. Rashid Khan has 17 victims while in Nehra's absence, Hyderabad's own Mohammed Siraj has not been too shabby. He was impressive in Kanpur last week, taking four for 32 to set up the victory against Gujarat.

There is one selection issue before SRH, however. Mohammad Nabi has played the last two games in Kane Williamson's stead, doing a fine job with the ball on both occasions. The Kiwi's presence, though, will considerably strengthen the batting group.

“We haven't made a decision,” said Moody. “We played Nabi in the last two games because there were a number of left-handers in the top order of the opponents. Kane is very much in consideration for Wednesday's match. The occasions he's missed out is just down to providing David Warner a little more depth in his bowling options.” The finger injury Nabi sustained in the previous game was not major but had to be monitored, Moody stated. Later, the Afghan all-rounder bowled in the nets without  any outward sign of trouble.

KKR, for its part, will wonder
how its form tailed off towards the end of the league stage. Gautam Gambhir's men won seven of the first nine matches, but only one of the next five. Against Mumbai Indians on Saturday, KKR needed 25 off the last three overs with Manish Pandey still at the crease, but lost.

Chris Woakes has flown home for England duty while Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has not played since being struck on the helmet against RPS on May 3, is unlikely to be involved here. Gambhir will hope the opening pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine that terrorised RCB here continues to fire. The middle order's failure was a factor in KKR's last three defeats; Robin Uthappa and Pandey will be keen to make runs on a ground they only know too well.

This IPL season, however, the Chinnaswamy Stadium has belied its reputation as a batsman-friendly venue. The highest total batting first has been Pune's 161, with the pitches playing slower than normal. Who will adapt better remains to be seen.

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