Kolkata Knight Riders will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first match on Wednesday in what will be a clash between teams of two contrasting fortunes. While Kolkata Knight Riders have been in sublime form, losing just one match, that too due a spectacular batting effort from Royal Challengers Bangalore's Chris Gayle. Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, have been disappointingly poor, winning only one game thanks to the efforts of current skipper David Warner and former skipper Shikhar Dhawan. While Kolkata will be keen to continue their winning run, Sunrisers would be desperate to get a win on the board, which will be a massive challenge against the rampant defending champions.
Kolkata were very much on top of their game in the previous match against Delhi Daredevils. They bowled with a lot of flair never allowing the Delhi batsmen to get into any sort of dominant position. Umesh Yadav has been their standout performer so far, and he continued his brilliant bowling effort against Delhi as well. Morne Morkel began as the main pace bowling weapon for KKR, but with Umesh Yadav taking on that role, Morkel has been content playing second fiddle, although his effectiveness hasn't reduced much.
The success of Piyush Chawla has been a real plus for Kolkata. The leggie has not only claimed wickets, but has also kept the flow of runs down. What Kolkata need now is for Sunil Narine to strike form. He has got wickets in the last couple of games, but hasn't been his deadly best. Clearly, he is still trying to get used to his new bowling action. The sooner he does so, the better for Kolkata.
KKR's batting, on the other hand, has been top-notch. Skipper Gautam Gambhir has led the way. He now has three fifties in four matches, and has definitely been the go to man for the team. Kolkata would want the southpaw to continue his great form. Yusuf Pathan too got among the runs against Delhi, following which Gambhir has promised a special knock from Pathan soon. Suryakumar Yadav's form has also been a plus for the defending champions. What Kolkata need is for the likes of Robin Uthappa and Manoj Tiwary to strike form.
Looking at Sunrisers, the problem with their side, as was predicted at the start of the tournament, is that they are too heavily dependent on their two big-hitters Warner and Dhawan. On the one occasion that they shone, Sunrisers won. Even if one of them has failed, it has put the side in deep trouble. Sunrisers need the likes of Lokesh Rahul and Ravi Bopara to deliver more consistently. They have some good bowlers in Dale Steyn, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Praveen Kumar and Amit Mishra. But, not all of them have delivered. It has been Nathan Coulter-Nile, who has been the most impressive of all. As a unit, Sunrisers have a long way to go.
--By A Cricket Analyst