New Delhi: The table toppers Kolkata Knight Riders will look to continue with their juggernaut when the travel down south to face the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in their own arena at Hyderabad, tonight.
Having humiliated Royal Challengers Bangalore at home and then made a complete mockery of the much-feared Delhi pace attack, the Knights Riders of Kolkata have once again conquered the top spot. Thus, they will definitely be heading into the game as hot favourites, tonight, at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.
As for Hyderabad, they have been indispensable at home, guarding their fortress like a real army. Well, they do have the tag of Orange Army, for some reason. Although, away encounters have been much of a concern for David Warner and his men, but taking on the high-flyers from the east would be a real test as to how strong they can be at home.
Adding on to their concern, the Kight Riders have toppled down Hyderabad in two out of three occasions at RGIS.
Here are the things to look out for at tonight's encounter...
Kolkata Knight Riders
The Batman-Robin combo- Over the past few seasons, if one thing that has been consistent throughout for the Knight Riders, then it is this partnership between skipper Gautam Gambhir and teammate Robin Uthappa. And it has been of real surprise as to how the duo have each time combined so magically to carve a lethal innings for their opponents.
As for this year, they indeed failed to put on the same show in the first few games, forcing KKR to change their opening pair. But despite their current revelation of Sunil Narine performing the cameo as a pinch-hitting opener, it is Robin Uthappa who ultimately anchors through their score along side the skipper to put on the big total, or chase down the same.
Having vapourised the formidable pace attack of the Daredevils in their last encounter at home, the duo would prove even more lethal when Robin comes out to assist Batman in the hunt. The deadly pace-spin combo of Sunrisers have to come out with a whole new plan to ramp over their applecart to get that early breakthrough.
Nathan Coulter-Nile- RCB didn’t see it coming, nor did thousands of home crowd at the Eden Gardens anticipate when KKR fell to mere 134 in their last home game against Bengaluru. Opening up Kolkata’s attack was Aussie pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile nicked off Virat Kohli, then Mr 360 a.k.a AB de Viliiers and finally Kedar Jadhav off in his first two overs to rip apart Bengaluru’s hope into mere tears and anger.
Much was the same when the pacer dismantled Delhi’s last hope with Rishabh Pant getting dismissed off a straight Yorker. For the defending champions- Nathan has taken two or more wickets in each of the four games he has played this season. So, beware!
Pace-spin combo- One thing that has helped the defending champions to secure their pride at their citadel, then it is their medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and young Afghan leggie Rashid Khan, who are working as rather partners in crime this season.
A little sneak peek- this is how things work for Hyderabad. Bhuvi kicks off the bowling attack, charging in with his in-swingers with the new ball; the middle overs are fashioned by Rashid with his lethal googlies to wrap up important partnerships and give yet another breakthrough; and then Bhuvi returns to hamper the tail-enders with his spot-on Yorkers.
The Upper-batting order- It wasn’t such a great start for the opening pair with the start of this season, but they worked hard and produced some bang on partnerships over the past few matches, with the last one against Punjab going for a century.
Lately, the inclusion of Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson has been more of a cherry on the cake. Having the ability to strike big and carry on the momentum, the right-handed batsmen has become an instant hit after being snubbed in th first few matches. Not to forget, he is followed in by Moises Henriques who indeed has been instrumental with his bat.