IPL 2020 KKR vs SRH: Slow bowlers could hold the key
The big challenge for SRH will be to curb the power-hitters of KKR.
Past champions Sunrisers and Knight Riders have started disappointingly this season. SRH looked good for a large part of the match against RCB before being flummoxed by Yuzvendra Chahal.
Though the contest was close as the match went into the final over, failure to overhaul a modest target would have hurt SRH.
KKR, on the other hand, looked lacklustre and bereft of ideas against Mumbai Indians, losing by a huge margin. The bowling was pulverised, the batting bombed, KKR were left to gather the debris of a resounding defeat.
But let this not present a dismal scenario for today's contest. Both teams have abundant talent, both are eager to get on to the points table, both will have taken important lessons from their defeats, neither side will be willing to cede a quarter.
All of this can translate into an exciting match.
The big challenge for SRH will be to curb the power-hitters of KKR - Sunil Narine, Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell. This has been the team's strength in the past couple of seasons, especially Russell's bionic strokeplay which has demolished the best bowling attacks, often pulling his side out of crises.
But just having an array of power hitters in the rank is not a guarantee for success, as was evident from the match against MI. When these guys flopped, KKR were left without sustenance. Unless other batsmen like Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana and captain Dinesh Karthik come good, the batting will remain vulnerable as the power hitters are high risk takers.
Perhaps the more damaging aspect in KKR's first match was Pat Cummins being mauled by the Mumbai Indians. At Rs 15.5 crore, Cummins is the most expensive overseas acquisition in this edition of the IPL. He was made to look terribly ordinary. Shows how cruel this format can be to even the world's no.1 ranked Test bowler.
But Cummins will be the first to admit he bowled poorly, the length a trifle too short, and lacking in pace too.
SRH had their own problems in batting in the first match and it was only Johny Bairstow, coming off a good series at home, who showed quick adjustment to the sluggish pitch and kept his team's prospect alive for the most part.
SRH will need more out of skipper David Warner - who has an excellent record in the IPL - if they have to be the force they were in the past few seasons.
Kane Williamson's inclusion will strengthen the batting and also give the side a bulwark for stroke-players to play freely. But it is not just batting that has sustained SRH in recent times, but also bowlers.
The Afghan duo of Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi have done sterling work for the franchise, as has Bhuvneshwar Kumar, now back at peak fitness.
If the pitch plays true, as has been the case in the past few matches, slow bowlers could hold the key.
Players to watch out for:
Jonny Bairstow, Rashid Khan (SRH)
Sunil Narine, Dinesh Karthik (KKR)
X Factor: Andre Russell (KKR)
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator
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