It will be a clash between two teams that have rediscovered their winning ways, when Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) takes on Mumbai Indians (MI) at the Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium here on Sunday.
The focus will be on the captains – Rohit Sharma of Mumbai (383 runs) and David Warner of Sunrisers (410 runs), who are outstanding openers. With five half-centuries each so far in this edition, these gifted stroke-makers have virtually set the tempo (especially while chasing) for their respective teams. In a season in which openers have been dominant, both Rohit and Warner have been exceptional, especially while batting second. So, it will be interesting to see how they perform while setting a target on what appears to be a typical flat batting track at Vizag.
Despite the presence of a couple of game-changers – Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard for MI and Kane Williamson and Eoin Morgan for SRH – both teams need Rohit and Warner to fire at the top. For even in Sunrisers’ win over Gujarat Lions, chasing 127 in Hyderabad on Friday, once Warner fell cheaply, the others, barring Shikhar Dhawan, wobbled on a bowler-friendly pitch. This is why Warner insists that either he or Shikhar should bat through the innings.
But again the key to the teams’ fortunes will be how well Rohit and Warner bat while setting a target. It has been a major area of concern especially with Rohit.
In bowling, Mumbai has the firepower in the form of fast bowlers, Tim Southee, Mitchell McClenaghan (leading wicket-taker (13) along with Andre Russel of KKR), Jasprit Bumrah and the offie, Harbhajan Singh. The last named hasn’t picked a lot of wickets, but has stemmed the run-flow in the middle-overs.
Sunrisers perhaps has the most varied and consistent bowling attack in this edition. Swing merchant Bhuvneshwar Kumar seems to be stepping into his own zone in each game in the company of left-armers Ashish Nehra, Barinder Sran and Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman, who is capable of having the best of the batsmen in knots with his accuracy and deadly blend of off-cutters and yorkers. In fact, Bhuvneshwar (12) and Mustafizur (11) have not only been SRH’s strike bowlers but also have been thrifty in the power-plays and death overs.
Sunday’s match might reveal how well the bowlers would rise to the occasion on what is expected to be a batting track. The contest, in a way, should also quench the thirst of the cricket-crazy fans of this Port City in the scorching heat.