This year’s IPL will make its first appearance in Mohali when Kings XI Punjab take on Sunrisers Hyderabad later in the day. The teams are faced with varying needs heading into this match; KXIP need points to starting moving up the ladder, while SRH need a win to stay closer to the top two teams in the standings.
In their most-recent outing, KXIP defeated the Gujarat Lions. However, Glenn Maxwell’s side have had a four-day break since that win, and they will need to set things rolling and quickly switch into overdrive mode. The other challenge for KXIP is to quickly gauge and adapt to the conditions in Mohali; the team played their home matches in Indore prior to this and did fairly well, winning two of the three matches there.
Sunrisers Hyderabad clinched their first points on the road in their previous match, and that came through a washed-out encounter against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The defending champions have four wins and three defeats, and are placed in the top half of the standings.
Hashim Amla has scored an unbeaten century and a half-century in his last two innings and is certainly KXIP’s man-in-form. There were concerns surrounding his availability, after he injured his hamstring in the previous match. The South African was not seen at the nets on the eve of the match, and there were no updates from the KXIP camp if Amla was available for selection. If Amla has not recovered, the team might contemplate batting Shaun Marsh up the order and bring in David Miller or Eoin Morgan to bolster the middle order.
Glenn Maxwell has four scores in excess of 30 this season, and the time has come for the KXIP captain to make bigger scores. Manan Vohra has shown sparks of brilliance with the bat; the youngster has three good hits – one of them the near-match-winning 95 against this same opponent, and the time has come for him to start making big scores consistently.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have clearly put the onus on one of the openers to get a big one; in six of the seven matches, at least one of the openers had batted into the second half of the innings. In this context, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan become extremely important to SRH’s batting plans. Kane Williamson, who bats at number three, is another in-form player; the Kiwi batsman has looked good in his two knocks so far, and he will look to keep his place for the rest of the tournament.
On the bowling front, look out for two swing bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been extremely good with the ball this season and sits comfortably perched at the top of the wicket-taker’s list. Sandeep Sharma has been very impressive with the new ball too, often providing KXIP with breakthroughs at the top.