Published On: Sat, Apr 28th, 2018

Rejuvenated Royals run into red-hot bowling unit

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Sunrisers Hyderabad’s bowling unit has been an enigma this season. They have the best economy in the Powerplay, middle overs and death. Twice now, they’ve defended totals that many other teams would’ve called 20-25 too little.

On Thursday, they didn’t have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Billy Stanlake. Their captain Kane Williamson was dismissed for a duck and the bowlers had only 132 to work with. Most sides would’ve looked at not conceding the game easily. Not Sunrisers, whose bowlers triggered a sensational Kings XI Punjab slide. From 55 for 1, they hurtled to 119 all out.

Even as this played out in Hyderabad, Royals were enjoying the palaces and what Rajasthan’s wildlife has to offer. They’ve had five days off but now will have to gear up for four games over the next 10 days.

Since their tournament opener against each other, Royals and Sunisers have had mixed fortunes. Two of Royals’ three wins have come batting first. Sunrisers’ batting, meanwhile, keeps malfunctioning. They have not had a 30-plus opening partnership in their last four games, which, not surprisingly, coincides with Shikhar Dhawan‘s low scores. Royals’ openers have misfired too. But with Rahul Tripathi back at the top, and Ajinkya Rahane discovering a new gear, things could get hot pretty early in Jaipur.

In the news

Bhuvneshwar trained with the squad in Jaipur, a sign that he’s on the road to recovery. If he’s good to play, then either Sandeep Sharma or Basil Thampi will have to miss out.

The likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane (capt), 2 Rahul Tripathi, 3 Sanju Samson, 4 Ben Stokes, 5 Jos Buttler(wk), 6 Heinrich Klaasen, 7 Dhawal Kulkarni, 8 K Gowtham, 9 Shreyas Gopal, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Jofra Archer

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Kane Williamson (capt), 3 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Mohammad Nabi, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar/Sandeep Sharma, 10 Siddarth Kaul, 11 Basil Thampi

The previous meeting

Royals were handed a nine-wicket thrashing when the sides last met. After Sunrisers restricted Royals to 125, Dhawan and Kane Williamson put together a 121-run second-wicket stand to lead the cruise.

Strategy punt

Stokes and Buttler have been dismissed twice by Rashid Khan in T20s, having faced the legspinner for 13 and five balls respectively. In T20s since 2015, Stokes has been dismissed 10 times by legspinners and averages just 12.6 against them. Perhaps there’s a case for Williamson to hold his trump card back for the middle overs when these two are most likely to bat.

Stats that matter

  • In the three games this season, pacers have picked 20 out of the 29 wickets in Jaipur, although spinners have had a better economy rate. This is good news for Sunrisers, again.

  • Rahane averages 40.3 with 12 30-plus scores at the Sawai Mansingh in the IPL, but averages just 16.4 against Sunrisers across all seasons. What better time than now to turn it around?

  • Manish Pandey, who top-scored for Sunrisers in their last match against Kings XI, needs 20 more to register 4000 runs in T20s.

Fantasy picks

Tripathi had phenomenal success as an opener last year. There’s enough indication he’ll continue to open. Having had a rough tournament so far, he’ll be eager to make amends. Among the uncapped players, he’s sure to give you good returns without costing your purse much should he fire. He’s also certain to start barring a last-minute injury. There’s also perhaps a case to pick K Gowtham, who has proven to be a useful lower-order hitter in addition to a few regular overs with the ball.



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