IPL 2021: Bhuvneshwar's return will bolster Sunrisers’ performance against KKR
Both teams will be looking to put behind their below par showing last season
Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders were underperformers last season, moving in fits and bursts, and fizzling out prematurely. At least SRH made it to the playoffs, without ever looking commanding, but KKR’s performances were ungratifying, and even led to a change in captaincy mid-way through the tournament.
What does the current season hold for them?
In SRH’s case, the return of one player could make a significant difference to their performances and prospects.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar missed the previous season because of injury, and it cost SRH dear, as captain David Warner acknowledged.
Late swing, immaculate control and clever variations makes Bhuvi a pace virtuoso. He gives early breakthroughs and in death overs bowls parsimoniously, which makes him virtually indispensable for the team. And he’s in terrific form too going by his showing against England in white-ball cricket recently.
Interestingly, Bhuvi has a slew of born-in-India fast bowlers in support: Sandeep Sharma, Khaleel Ahmed, Sidarth Kaul and particularly T Natarajan who made such a huge impact in the international series’s. Former West Indies captain Jason Holder is the exception to the India-dominated pace attack.
In batting, however, it’s the reverse. Overseas players provide the heft: Warner, Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Jason Roy are the major domos, with Manish Pandey and Wridhiman Saha as the experienced Indian hands in the line-up.
The key player in the line-up is undoubtedly Afghan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, still in his early 20s, but considered a maestro. Two other Afghans spinners, Mohamed Nabi and Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, are also in the squad.
This makes selection of the playing XI a headache for the SRH team management, as overseas representation is limited to four players. Warner and Tom Moody will have to do some adroit jugglery of talent to get the best results.
In a sense this is true of KKR too. Eoin Morgan, Pat Cummins, Lockie Ferguson, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Sakib-ul-Hasan, Tim Seiffert and Ben Cutting all have proven ability in the T20 format, and picking the best four from these will be daunting: particularly when it comes to a choice between Narine and Sakib.
The more serious challenge for captain Morgan is on two fronts. Forging a cohesive unit from the players at his command is paramount. Last season, the lack of regimentation in the first half of the tournament was evident, but even after a change of guard (Morgan taking over from Dinesh Karthik), wrinkles remained.
Towards this end, it is imperative for KKR to sort out the top order. More than the bowling, it was the inconsistent batting that let the team down. Identifying those who can provide the thrust and runs, batting first or second, and settling a batting order which does not have to be tweaked for every match would give the team stability.
Players To Watch Out For:
SRH: David Warner, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan
KKR: Pat Cummins, Shubman Gill, Eoin Morgan
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