Battle of batters beckons

20 May,2024 06:09 AM IST |  Ahmedabad  |  Sunil K Vaidya

Tonight’s Qualifier 1 will be about two big batting outfits—SRH and KKR—whose willow-wielders are a perfect man-to-man match

Big-hitter Travis Head top-scores for SRH with 533 runs in 12 games; (right) Opener Sunil Narine (461) is the highest run-scorer for KKR. Pics/AFP

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The Narendra Modi Stadium will be like an oven when the top two teams in the Indian Premier League clash on Tuesday to book a place in the final on Sunday (May 26) at Chennai. Both Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) flew over 1000 km to arrive here on Monday after finishing their league engagements on Sunday at Guwahati and Hyderabad respectively.

According to the weather forecast, this city, which lies on the banks of the Sabarmati River, is set to experience excessive heat in the next two days. On Sunday, the mercury levels here touched a maximum of 45 degrees. And it is learnt that when the IPL table-toppers begin their Qualifier 1 clash at 7:30pm, the temperature will be in the 40s and could drop to around 38 by the time one of them books a place in the final, around 11pm.

It will be interesting to see if the openers of both KKR and SRH are as hot as they've been throughout the league phase and match the climatic conditions.

KKR will miss Salt

Shreyas Iyer's Knight Riders will miss their in-form opener, Phil Salt (12 matches, 435 runs) as the wicketkeeper has left to join the England camp ahead of the T20 World Cup. With Sunil Narine (13 matches, 461 runs), Salt had formed an attacking partnership that gave the Kolkata side a brilliant start in the league phase. Dashing Afghanistan wicketkeeper-batter and opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz, who is yet to play this season, is expected to step into Salt's shoes and partner Narine. However, rain in the last league match against Rajasthan Royals at Guwahati on Sunday robbed him of a chance to warm up for the first knockout match of the season. While lack of match practice for Gurbaz could be a slight worry for KKR, the SRH camp seems to have found an answer to their worries. Rahul Tripathi, who has played only three matches this season, played an aggressive cameo at No. 3 after the in-form Travis Head got out for a golden duck against the Punjab Kings on Sunday. Tripathi proved that he can hold the middle order in a crisis and can also be combative when needed.

Pat Cummins's Hyderabad boys have crossed the 200-run mark four times this season, but ironically, have twice failed to breach that number while chasing. However, in their last league match they comfortably chased a target of 215 to beat the Punjab Kings, despite their top-scorer Head (12 matches, 533 runs) getting out on the first ball of the innings.

KKR bowlers hold the edge

The batting might of both teams match man-to-man, but when it comes to bowling, the Knight Riders may have a slight edge. At the Motera Stadium this season, four out of six matches were won by a team chasing. The Knight Riders score a point or two over the Sunrisers when it comes to chasing. Thus, the toss could hold the key to success besides of course the team that plays out of their skin to book a spot in the final.

No. of IPL matches KKR and SRH played against each other. KKR have won 17 encounters, while SRH have emerged victorious nine times

SRH explosive opener Abhishek Sharma's strike-rate in 13 matches - highest this season

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IPL 2024 sunil narine kolkata knight riders sunrisers hyderabad cricket news sports news Sports Update
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