Sunrisers Hyderabad will be the favourites, having won their last four games, when they face an inconsistent Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2 of the Indian Premier League in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
The past couple of weeks have been a picture in contrast for the two franchises.
After an underwhelming first half, Sunrisers Hyderabad started pushing the envelope with skipper David Warner marshalling his resources well.
Capitals, on the other hand, looked like serious contenders till their first nine games, winning seven in that phase before a dramatic slump saw them lose five out of their next six matches with captain Shreyas Iyer looking all at sea.
The current situation notwithstanding, Iyer would want to lead the Capitals to their first summit clash in 13 editions while Warner would be keen to add more silverware to the trophy cabinet in addition to his 2016 triumph.
For the Capitals, their biggest worry has been their top order. Shikhar Dhawan (525 in 15 games) has impressed but the rest have struggled to inspire confidence. Even Dhawan has struggled in the last few matches, with scores of 6, 0, 0, 54, 0 in the last five innings.
Prithvi Shaw’s (228 from 13 games) technique against top-quality fast bowling has left a lot to be desired and Ajinkya Rahane (111 from 7 games) has had only one knock of note so far.
Something that would definitely worry coach Ricky Ponting is the number of ducks by the top order – nine. Dhawan has four, Shaw has three and Rahane didn’t bother the scorers twice.
However, the bowling unit has done well for the most part. Kagiso Rabada (25 wickets), Anrich Nrtje (20) and Ravichandran Ashwin (13) have done shined in most of the games despite the South Africa pacers going off the boil in the back-end.
Sunrisers’ batting line-up, which has gathered momentum over the last few games, is well aware of that, and their premier all-rounder Jason Holder acknowledged this after Friday’s win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator.
“What we have done in our batting is that we have been aggressive upfront. David has obviously led the charge, well supported by (Wriddhiman) Saha. Jonny (Bairstow) has done an outstanding job and Manish (Pandey) has kept the momentum going,” Holder said when asked about their strategy to face the DC attack.
“And then we have the levelheadedness of Kane (Williamson), being good to come and finish games. So we don’t play names, we see the ball and strike the ball,” Holder said.
Saha’s groin injury, which ruled him out of the Eliminator, might also keep him out of the second qualifier.
“We have faith in (Shreevats) Goswami. He has been around for some time and we need to give him confidence,” said Holder, whose 13 wickets in six games along with crucial middle-order contributions have played a key role in SRH’s success.
Rashid Khan’s economy-rate of less than six runs per over, T Natarajan’s yorkers and Sandeep Sharma’s ability to get swing upfront only add to the strengths of Warner’s team.
For the Capitals however, the weak spot which they can exploit is the inexperience of two middle-order players – Priyam Garg and Abdul Samad – who are playing some of the biggest matches of their young careers. If the Capitals make early inroads, it will be a test of character for the young but talented duo.
Daniel Sams’ poor show with the ball so far is a concern for Delhi and they might explore the option of bringing back Shimron Hetmyer in place of the left-arm seamer, which will also add some batting firepower. In that case, Marcus Stoinis might have to bowl his full quota of overs alongside Rabada, Nortje, Ashwin and Axar Patel.
Ashwin vs Warner
Warner, as always, has been among the runs for Hyderabad and his wicket will be crucial for Delhi. One key battle in the match will be between Warner and Ashwin. The senior off-spinner has taken the new ball consistently this season and picked up key wickets for his team. He loves bowling to the left-handers as well. Delhi will be hoping Ashwin can get rid of Warner and put Hyderabad under pressure early on.
Holder vs Dhawan
With back-to-back centuries this season, Dhawan has been close to his best for Delhi Capitals. He can set the game up for his team with his free-flowing strokeplay and with Delhi’s middle-order struggling, his wicket becomes all the more important for Hyderabad. SRH would want to attack Dhawan with Holder, as the tall right-arm medium-pacer could trouble the left-hander with his bounce and sideways movement off the pitch.
Rashid vs Iyer
Perhaps the finest bowler in the middle overs this season, Rashid has once again proven to be a massive asset for Hyderabad. The Afghan leg-spinner is deadly accurate with his variations and we have seen the best of players show him respect by not taking risks against him. In Qualifier 2 on Sunday, his battle with Shreyas Iyer will be one to watch out for. The Delhi captain is due some runs for his team and if he manages to up the ante against Rashid, the Sunrisers will definitely be under pressure.
Rabada vs Williamson, Holder
Hyderabad’s middle order has been looked at as one of their biggest weaknesses for a while now. But Williamson and Holder’s match-winning partnership against RCB in the Eliminator will inspire confidence in the SRH camp. Against Delhi on Sunday, the duo could face a stern test against Kagiso Rabada, who has been phenomenal for his team in the death overs. The outcome of this battle could go a long way in deciding the winner of this all-important match.
|Mat||DC wins||SRH wins||DC win%||SRH win%|
|DC vs SRH||17||6||11||35.29||64.71|
DC's road to IPL 2020 playoffs
|DC vs KXIP||20 Sep, Sun (1930)||Dubai||DC won Super Over after match was tied||2|
|CSK vs DC||25 Sep, Fri (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 44 runs||4|
|DC vs SRH||29 Sep, Tue (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 15 runs||4|
|DC vs KKR||3 Oct, Sat (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 18 runs||6|
|RCB vs DC||5 Oct, Mon (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 59 runs||8|
|RR vs DC||9 Oct, Fri (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 46 runs||10|
|MI vs DC||11 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 5 wickets||10|
|DC vs RR||14 Oct, Wed (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 13 runs||12|
|DC vs CSK||17 Oct, Sat (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 5 wickets||14|
|KXIP vs DC||20 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||DC lost by 5 wickets||14|
|KKR vs DC||24 Oct, Sat (1530)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 59 runs||14|
|SRH vs DC||27 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||DC lost by 88 runs||14|
|DC vs MI||31 Oct, Sat (1530)||Dubai||DC lost by 9 wickets||14|
|DC vs RCB||2 Nov, Mon (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC won by 6 wickets||16|
SRH's road to IPL 2020 playoffs
|SRH vs RCB||21 Sep, Mon (1930)||Dubai||SRH lost by 10 runs||0|
|KKR vs SRH||26 Sep, Sat (1930)||Abu Dhabi||SRH lost by 7 wickets||0|
|DC vs SRH||29 Sep, Tue (1930)||Abu Dhabi||SRH won by 15 runs||2|
|CSK vs SRH||2 Oct, Fri (1930)||Dubai||SRH won by 7 runs||4|
|MI vs SRH||4 Oct, Sun (1530)||Sharjah||SRH lost by 34 runs||4|
|SRH vs KXIP||8 Oct, Thu (1930)||Dubai||SRH won by 69 runs||6|
|SRH vs RR||11 Oct, Sun (1530)||Dubai||SRH lost by 5 wickets||6|
|SRH vs CSK||13 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||SRH lost by 20 runs||6|
|SRH vs KKR||18 Oct, Sun (1530)||Abu Dhabi||SRH lost Super Over||6|
|RR vs SRH||22 Oct, Thu (1930)||Dubai||SRH won by 8 wickets||8|
|KXIP vs SRH||24 Oct, Sat (1930)||Dubai||SRH lost by 12 runs||8|
|SRH vs DC||27 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||SRH won by 88 runs||10|
|RCB vs SRH||31 Oct, Sat (1930)||Sharjah||SRH won by 5 wickets||12|
|SRH vs MI||3 Nov, Tue (1930)||Sharjah||SRH won by 10 wickets||14|
|Shreyas Iyer||Ishant Sharma||Axar Patel||Rishabh Pant|
|Prithvi Shaw||Amit Mishra||Harshal Patel||Alex Carey|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Avesh Khan||R Ashwin|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Sandeep Lamichhane||Lalit Yadav|
|Shimron Hetmyer||Kagiso Rabada||Marcus Stoinis|
|Keemo Paul||Daniel Sams|
|Kane Williamson||Rashid Khan||Vijay Shankar||Jonny Bairstow|
|David Warner||Bhuvneshwar Kumar||Mohammad Nabi||Wriddhiman Saha|
|Manish Pandey||Khaleel Ahmed||Abhishek Sharma||Shreevats Goswami|
|Priyam Garg||Sandeep Sharma||Abdul Samad|
|Virat Singh||Siddarth Kaul||Fabian Allen|
|Billy Stanlake||Sandeep Bavanaka|
|T Natarajan||Sanjay Yadav|
Match starts at 1930 IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar
(With PTI inputs)