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.
According to @CricViz Match Impact David Warner has today edged ahead of Chris Gayle as the greatest IPL batsman of all time. The model ranks Warner as worth +7.0 runs per match while Gayle is worth +6.9. #IPL #SRHvKKR— Freddie Wilde (@fwildecricket) April 21, 2019
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.
Many years ago, in the 99-00 season of the Ranji Trophy (see the 2nd innings of Assam in this scorecard) https://t.co/R2CzlZvnwG— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 26, 2019
An Assam opener, called Parag Das was stumped by a young keeper called MS Dhoni. Parag Das is Riyan Parag's father! And MSD is the constant!
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,
CSK have won all five games at the Chepauk stadium in the ongoing campaign so far and have all but assured themselves of play-off qualification after amassing 16 points in 11 matches.
Fellow three-time champions Mumbai are currently four points behind but have played a game less than Chennai. Rohit Sharma’s men had prevailed over the defending champions in the reverse-fixture held at the Wankhede stadium.
Can CSK assure themselves of a top-two finish with a win or will Mumbai take another giant stride towards play-off qualification? Find out by following the ball-by-ball updates from Chennai below.
As fans, watching the action is not the only thing to look forward to – IPL fantasy games mean you have the opportunity to get involved as well.
As the IPL’s official partner, Dream11 runs a daily contest for each game apart from the default format which is conducted per round.
Here, we focus on helping you navigate your way through the former.
Shane Watson – Chennai Super Kings (9 credits)
Following his superb knock of 96 from just 53 balls to lead his side to victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad, it’s hard not to back Shane Watson. It was the Australian’s first 50 of the 2019 IPL season but hopefully it does his confidence a world of good and opens the floodgates. As longs as he can see off Mumbai’s opening seam attack, he should be set for a few runs.
Imran Tahir – Chennai Super Kings (9.5 credits)
Despite a disappointing outing against Sunrisers, Imran Tahir remains second for wickets this season with 16 to his name. He’s done well at home so expect him to bounce back at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Hardik Pandya – Mumbai Indians (9.5 credits)
As far as all-rounders go, there are a few decent options in this game with Krunal Pandya, Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja featuring. However, Hardik Pandya stands out with his form and consistency.
Jadeja and Bravo have each one wicket more than the Mumbai star but they don’t compare with Pandya’s average of 40.16 and strike rate of 189.76 with the bat.
Quinton de Kock – Mumbai Indians (9.5 credits)
MS Dhoni boasts a league-high batting average of 104.66 but Quinton de Kock’s recent form means he gets the nod. Sure, Dhoni hit a superb unbeaten 84 off 48 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore but never even took to the crease in CSK’s last game against Sunrisers.
That’s the risk you run with the veteran. De kock on the other hand opens for Mumbai and his last four scores read: 81, 40, 35 and 65.
CAPTAIN – Shane Watson
VICE CAPTAIN – Hardik Pandya