IPL 2019: Pressure mounting on both SRH and KXIP ahead of pivotal clash in play-off race

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Warner and Gayle go head-to-head. Image - BCCI.

There is no time to mope for Sunrisers Hyderabad following their seven-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals with another 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) clash on the way for Kane Williamson and his men in less than 48 hours.

Kings XI Punjab will be SRH’s opponents at Hyderabad on Monday in a clash which has assumed great significance in the context of the play-off race following the latest set of results.

PLAY-OFF BATTLE GETS MURKIER

Rajasthan’s win over Hyderabad on Saturday has guaranteed play-off qualification for defending champions Chennai Super Kings but has blown the race wide open for the rest of the teams in the fray.

After tasting what was their sixth loss of the season, SRH still hold on to the fourth and final play-off spot currently but the gap with the teams behind them has closed down drastically. Williamson’s men are now tied with KXIP and Rajasthan on 10 points while KKR and RCB are just two points behind.

No team has yet been ruled out completely from the play-off race and that means there are as many as seven sides currently vying for the three remaining slots. As such, the result of Monday’s clash will have a significant bearing on both Hyderabad and Punjab’s play-off ambitions with a loss for either side having potentially catastrophic consequences for their respective campaigns.

CURRENT FORM AGAINST BOTH SRH, KXIP

Neither of the two sides are in good form coming into Monday’s clash at Hyderabad. Both teams started off the campaign in strong fashion but are now in danger of running out of steam at the most crucial stage of the tournament.

Sunrisers have now been beaten four times in their last seven outings including a six-wicket loss against KXIP in the reverse-fixture at Mohali. KXIP, on the other hand, come into the match on the back of four losses in five matches. Just like in the 2018 edition, Ravi Ashwin and his men were impressive in the first half of the tournament but the wheels have come off dramatically in recent weeks.

Both the teams are struggling for form and momentum at the business end of the IPL and are in desperate need of some inspiration.

WARNER V GAYLE OPENING BATTLE

Two overseas left-handed openers have been doing the business for both Hyderabad and Punjab this season with David Warner and Chris Gayle stamping their authority on the league once again.

While Warner missed out a on a record sixth consecutive fifty on Saturday, the Aussie has been in exceptional form in the IPL 2019 campaign where he has scored 611 runs so far at an average of nearly 69. It’s the third IPL edition in a row that Warner has managed to breach the 600-run mark and he is only the second batsman to do so after a certain Chris Gayle.

The explosive Windies veteran has not been too far behind Warner this season with 444 runs of his own at an average of almost 50. The Jamaican has already struck a staggering 32 sixes in his 10 innings so far and continues to defy age with his incredible consistency.

How the two openers fare for their respective sides on Monday could very well have a major say in the final outcome.

LIKELY XIs

Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Shakib Al Hasan, Wriddhiman Saha, Deepak Hooda, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed.

Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Mandeep Singh, Ravi Ashwin, Hardus Viljoen, Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Mohammed Shami.

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