Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rajasthan looking for crucial victory before international stars depart

Aditya Devavrat 17:21 26/04/2019
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David Warner is the leading run-scorer in IPL 2019.

In a sign of how tight the playoff race for IPL 2019 is, Sunrisers Hyderabad were surging back into contention after two straight wins but a loss in their last outing, against Chennai Super Kings, has them sweating over their place in the top four ahead of Saturday’s clash against Rajasthan Royals.

The Royals themselves are hanging on by a thread, but got a crucial victory over Kolkata Knight Riders to move to within two points of Sunrisers.

Both sides have lost key players to international duty and are set to lose more, but for now, there’s a crunch game to prepare for.

SUNRISERS NEED TO MAKE THE MOST OUT OF WARNER’S REMAINING INNINGS

The departure of Jonny Bairstow heaps even more pressure on David Warner, this season’s leading run-scorer so far. Sunrisers’ batting has struggled beyond the top two, while Vijay Shankar, the team’s third-leading scorer, has an average of only 20.

Warner is also set to leave soon to link up with the Australia squad, so he’ll want to finish his tournament on a high. But the onus is on the rest of the batsman to make sure that regardless of their star opener’s form, they can play around him while he’s still with the team and take up the mantle of leading the Sunrisers’ lineup once he’s gone.

Kane Williamson will partly fill the void left by the departing Warner and Bairstow, and Manish Pandey’s unbeaten 83 in the previous game was a welcome innings. Players like Shankar, Deepak Hooda, and Shakib al Hasan now also need to come to the fore.

CAN RAJASTHAN STRING TWO WINS TOGETHER?

Rajasthan have pulled off some excellent wins this season – twice against Mumbai Indians, and their most recent result against KKR – but their inability to put together a run of victories has hurt their playoff hopes. The Royals have yet to win even two games in a row.

Saturday’s game is the perfect time to bring that record to an end. With Rajasthan one of three teams tied on eight points and two behind a spot in the top four, a victory would add pressure on their rivals, at a stage of the season where every game feels like a must-win for the chasing pack.

They’ve done well in recent games, riding the hot hand of 17-year-old Riyan Parag. But they, too, are set to lose players – Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Jofra Archer have left and Steve Smith will follow soon – so building some momentum is a must.

LIKELY XIs

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson (wk), Steve Smith (c), Ashton Turner, Riyan Parag, Shreyas Gopal, Stuart Binny, Varun Aaron, Oshane Thomas, Jaydev Unadkat, Ish Sodhi

Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Kane Williamson (c), Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shakib al Hasan, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma,

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