Rajasthan Royals, Sunrisers Hyderabad look to get on the board after shock losses

Aditya Devavrat 19:17 28/03/2019
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Bhuvneshwar Kumar is looking to bounce back.

Both Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals will go into their clash on Friday wondering how they failed to win their first games of IPL 2019.

Sunrisers had 52 to defend from the last three overs against Kolkata Knight Riders, only to be blitzed by an Andre Russell special. Royals were looking solid at 108-1 in a chase of 185, only to be derailed by Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin’s controversial run-out of Jos Buttler.

There’s a long way to go in the season, of course, but both teams will be desperate to put those losses behind them and get a win on the board in Hyderabad.

Sunrisers will be hoping that Bhuvneshwar Kumar gets over the 21-run over he conceded to Russell during KKR’s onslaught, and returns to the form that earned him the reputation of one of the best death bowlers in the world.

Other than their death bowling, there wasn’t much else wrong with Hyderabad’s performance that night. They’ll be hoping that Jonny Bairstow can score quicker than the 35-ball 39 he managed on Sunday, but Vijay Shankar’s 40 off 24 at No 3 was encouraging – not just for Sunrisers, but for anyone watching from the India camp, as it would be potential vindication of playing him in the middle order in the national team.

Kane Williamson is likely to miss out again as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury, while Hyderabad may consider reshuffling their batting order, having sent Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey at four and five and left Deepak Hooda in the hut. If they get off to another good start, perhaps promoting Hooda may be the way to go.

For Rajasthan, the concern will be how much their batting struggled after the top two did their job. Ajinkya Rahane will always struggle to push the pace, but in sharing a 78-run partnership with Buttler he had given Royals a solid platform in their chase. But Sanju Samson and Steve Smith both scored at even lower strike rates than Rahane, whose 27 off 20 was a respectable enough innings.

Much is expected of Samson especially, with former Royals captain Shane Warne saying the Kerala batsman could end up being the MVP of this IPL. He didn’t live up to that promise during his scratchy innings of 30 off 25.

Smith should find form eventually as he works his way back from the one-year suspension he received for his part in last year’s ball-tampering scandal, though Royals need it to happen sooner rather than later.

And they could do with Ben Stokes surviving more than just two balls, even if he does hit the first one for six. But that will likely not be a long-term problem either.

LIKELY XI

Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Vijay Shankar, Yusuf Pathan, Manish Pandey, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (c), Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sanju Samson, Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi, K Gowtham, Jofra Archer, Jayadev Unadkat, Shreyas Gopal

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