SRH v KKR: In-form sides go head on

If form is the constant driving teams to performance and thereby achievement, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad have been steadily progressing in the Vivo Indian Premier League.

Gautam Gambhir’s table-topping side KKR will find David Warner’s SRH a formidable force to reckon with.   -  Sandeep Saxena

If form is the constant driving teams to performance and thereby achievement, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) have been steadily progressing in the Vivo Indian Premier League.

The squad from the City of Joy is riding the crest like no other though, trampling on seven of the nine teams it has taken on thus far. Its record in away matches is superior too. To stop a side with such momentum will not be easy for the host when the two meet at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Sunday.

The authority with which KKR has clinched its games has been nothing short of awe-inspriring; by seven wickets against Delhi Daredevils on Friday; by an identical margin and with 11 balls to spare against Rising Pune Supergiant and by 82 runs against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Its top order has fired with increasing frequency while Nathan Coulter Nile has been a game-changer with the ball.

Technique tweak

Even if Sunil Narine hasn't been that destructive at the top, his opening partner Gautam Gambhir has more than made up for it. Time was when the latter was struggling with the bat in an earlier season. A visit to Justin Langer's academy in Australia transformed the southpaw to such an extent, that images of the Delhi batsman fumbling to find the line are all but forgotten.

The chemistry Gambhir enjoys with one-down batsman Robin Uthappa gives their second wicket pairing a resilience that is rare. Their left-right combination has proved a nightmare for almost every attack it has faced. The Bangalore-born blaster's appetite for runs seems insatiable, as he tears up the bowlers much like shreds of paper.

The home side, while appearing to be the less formidable of the two, will be no pushover though. The resurgence of Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner's willingness to take the bowling head-on from the word go and Kane Williamson's recently revealed avatar of bowling-slayer in the shortest format, augur well for the Sunrisers.

So has its bowling shown depth, its spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar inspiring the rest of his pack to rise to the occasion, especially when the chips are down. For instance, Siddharth Kaul's bowling, especially at the death, has been cool and calculated.

At home mostly, the Sunrisers has taken its games to the wire, that can prove perilous. The lack of sharpness at times in its fielding has leaked runs. SRH can become a tougher proposition if it tightens up its act.

Both sides chose to skip practice on the eve of their Sunday showdown.