In the short, compact format of the IPL, even a two-game losing run can seem like a crisis. Alarm bells may not be ringing in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp just yet – despite losses in their last two games to Delhi Capitals and Chennai Super Kings they’re still in the top four and on track for a playoffs place. But with a tight battle in which six of the eight teams are realistically in playoff contention, any more slip-ups may cause panic as they face CSK again on Sunday.
Will Andre Russell get any help?
The batting line-up’s lack of consistency is the biggest concern. Andre Russell’s superhuman feats aside, no batsman has gotten a good run of scores – though in the case of Shubman Gill, that could largely be because he was playing down the order and when he moved to the opener’s slot on Friday he hit a pleasing 65 off 39.
With regular opening pair Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine out with illness and injury respectively, Joe Denly joined Gill at the top of the order on Friday and was out for a first-ball duck. Carlos Brathwaite, the other overseas player brought into the XI as a replacement, didn’t hit a single boundary in a short, seven-ball stay at the crease.
Most sixes in a single @IPL season for @KKRiders— Victor Tarapore (@VictorTarapore) April 12, 2019
31 - Andre Russell, 2018
26 - Andre Russell, 2019👈
23 - Sunil Narine, 2018
21 - Robin Uthappa 2017
21 - Robin Uthappa 2018
Top 5 occurring in last 3 seasons!#MakeStatsGreatAgain #KKRvDC #KKRHaiTaiyaar #DreRuss #VIVOIPL
Dhoni, bowlers masking poor batting form
CSK have no such worries, with a settled side that has lost just once all season. Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have made headlines for his uncharacteristic outburst during the Super Kings’ tense win over Rajasthan Royals on Thursday, but at the end of the day they stayed comfortably at the top of the points table, and Dhoni himself has quietly – for the most part – amassed over 200 runs at an average of over 100 this season.
Dhoni’s form is perhaps masking the poor returns of the rest of his line-up – Suresh Raina, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, and Kedar Jadhav all struggling for consistency. But when three of their bowlers – Deepak Chahar, Imran Tahir, and Harbhajan Singh – are among the top ten wicket-takers on the season, Dhoni can rely on his bowling attack while waiting for his batsmen to hit form.
The last time they played KKR, they had Dinesh Karthik’s side floundering at 79-9 before a late Russell onslaught brought some respectability to the innings – though a score of 108 was never going to be tough to chase for Chennai. CSK perhaps stumbled upon the perfect strategy against this KKR line-up – focus on everyone else, because even Russell can’t do it all on his own.
For CSK In 2019 IPL— Whistle Podu Army 💛 (@MSDArmy) April 12, 2019
Most Runs - Dhoni (198)*
High Score - Dhoni (75*)
Most 6s - Dhoni (9)*
Most 50s - Dhoni ( 2 )*
Biggest Six - Dhoni*
Highest Batting Average - Dhoni (193.0)* #ThalaDhoni #WhistlePodu pic.twitter.com/Ezc5IU3oc9
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Prasidh Krishna
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Mitchell Santner, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Imran Tahir
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Rajasthan Royals lost a nail-biting clash with Chennai Super Kings after a last-ball six by Mitchell Santner and will be hoping for a change in fortunes when they take on Mumbai Indians on Saturday.
Rajasthan have already lost five matches and are edging closer to the danger mark of seven defeats – from where playoff qualification is almost impossible.
Mumbai, on the other hand, were powered by Kieron Pollard’s blazing fifty against Punjab in their last game.
Who will prevail in this clash? Catch the live updates below.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have hit a snag at the halfway point of the league phase of IPL 2019 and need a quick turnaround when they host Delhi Capitals on Sunday.
Sunrisers started off brilliantly, riding on the explosive opening partnership of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow and the wily off-spin of Mohammad Nabi. However, their last two games in challenging conditions ended in defeat against Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab.
The defeat to Mumbai was especially stinging as they were chasing just 137 at home but a rampant Alzarri Joseph – on debut – scalped best ever IPL figures of 6-12 to blow them away for 96.
Their next clash came against Punjab and they lost that too, in a tense chase by Kings XI.
In both games, it was a wobbly top order that exposed the weak middle of Sunrisers. Warner and Bairstow failed to fire in unison and SRH simply had no Plan B. Their remaining batting line up of Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Mohammad Nabi does not scream ‘world-beating batsmen’.
They have a simple solution to all their batting woes – Kiwi captain Kane Williamson.
Williamson had a flare up of the shoulder injury that had required careful management coming into the tournament and after he was forced to sit out because of it in the IPL, Sunrisers found a winning overseas formula in Warner, Bairstow, Nabi and Rashid Khan. But with their batting low on confidence and up against a rampant Delhi pace attack that has Kagiso Rabada, Chris Morris and Ishant Sharma, they will need Kane in the line-up.
Bairstow or Nabi?
SRH coach Tom Moody confirmed Williamson will be available for the Delhi match. Which means either Bairstow or Nabi will have to sit out as Warner and Rashid will always be first-choice picks.
Both Bairstow and Nabi have been brilliant so far but the former seems on slightly weaker footing as Nabi has been excellent with the ball and offers some runs down the order. Sunrisers can drop any one of their middle order and bring in a proper wicketkeeper like Sreevats Goswami or Wriddhiman Saha to take over from Jonny.
Delhi on a high
The Capitals will be high on confidence following their thumping win over Kolkata Knight Riders. The return to form of opener Shikhar Dhawan – who missed out on a deserved ton by three runs in Kolkata – adds some serious power to an already decent batting line-up and their bowling attack is second to none.
Delhi might be tempted to bring back Sandeep Lamichhane in place of Keemo Paul in Sunday’s clash as the wicket might once again suit wrist spinners.
SRH: David Warner, Kane Williamson (c), Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Mohammad Nabi, Yusuf Pathan, Sreevast Goswami, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma
DC: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Colin Ingram, Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Sandeep Lamichhane