IPL 2018: Keen contest on the cards as SRH meet KXIP in Mohali

The unbeaten streak of table-toppers Surisers Hyderabad (SRH) would be up for a test when they take on third-placed Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) contest here on Thursday.

IPL 2018: Keen contest on the cards as SRH meet KXIP in Mohali
Chris Gayle (Photo: Twitter)

Mohali: The unbeaten streak of table-toppers Surisers Hyderabad (SRH) would be up for a test when they take on third-placed Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) contest here on Thursday.

Kane Williamson-led Sunrisers have won all three games played so far, mainly riding on the good performance by their bowlers. On the other hand, under Ravichandran Ashwin, the new look Kings XI Punjab have been "aggressive" in the batting department, tearing opposition attacks.

The home side has won two out of its three matches so far, including a close finish against the Chennai Super Kings in the previous match played here.

SRH's bowling attack does not have star names but the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Billy Stanlake, Siddharth Kaul, Shakib Al Hasan and Sandeep Sharma, have been among the wickets and have managed to contain the batsmen from rival camps.

SRH also boast of an experienced batting lineup.

Wriddhiman Saha, Kane Williamson, Shikhar Dhawan and Manish Pandey form the core of their batting, while Shakib, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan lend depth to the line-up. However, their batting is yet to be tested against big totals.

They did not look too convincing in a modest chase against the Mumbai Indians pulling off a one-wicket victory off the last ball when they were chasing 148 for victory.

However, in their opening match of this season against Rajasthan Royals, SRH bowlers had restricted them to 125/9 and then notched up a comfortable victory (127/1) with opener Shikhar Dhawan (78) and Kane Williamson (36) remaining unbeaten.

Hyderabad bowlers again rose to the occasion in the previous match against Kolkata Knight Riders, who were restricted to 138/8, the game in which SRH frontline bowler Bhuvneshwar took three scalps.

On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab too are high on confidence after defeating Chennai by four runs in the previous outing here when they defended a big total of 197 on home turf.

For Punjab, Chris Gayle, who played his first match of the season against Chennai, showed why he can still intimidate the opposition. The Jamaican struck a 33-ball 63 against CSK and weaved a 96-run partnership with K L Rahul, the opener who has been in top form in all three games played so far.

Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Ashwin too have been in good form with the bat. However, it is the lack of form of their key batsman Yuvraj Singh, who has scored 36 runs (12, 4 and 20) combined in the three games, which should worry KXIP.

Kings XI Punjab began their campaign this season with a comfortable victory on their home ground against Delhi Daredevils but they lost the away game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In his maiden stint as captain, Ashwin has also been marshalling his men nicely. Punjab's 17-year-old spinner Mujeeb-ur-Rahman has been surprising the batsmen with his unconventional deliveries and was rewarded with the prized wicket of RCB skipper Virat Kohli.

Apart from Ashwin, Mohit Sharma and Mujeeb, Axar Patel and Andrew Tye add depth to Punjab's bowling attack.