Almost out of the reckoning for a playoff berth, bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to play party-poopers when they take on an equally struggling Punjab Kings in the IPL’s battle of laggards here on Saturday. Sunrisers suffered their seventh defeat on Wednesday after being blown away by Delhi Capitals and their play-off chances look less than dim as they have managed just two points after eight games. Punjab, on the other hand, quite inexplicably found a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Rajasthan Royals and will be desperate to find an answer to their problems after being placed seventh with six points from nine matches.
The Kings were well-placed to win their first IPL game of the UAE leg before committing harakari in the last over bowled by Kartik Tyagi. They lost two wickets and scored just one run while needing four to win against Rajasthan. Despite being packed with excellent Indian and foreign talent, Punjab Kings have regularly messed up games and skipper KL Rahul will have to address their inconsistency. Punjab Kings have also lacked any kind of stability over the last 14 seasons with captains and coaches being changed frequently. Their playing XI too has gone through many changes, something which has drawn sharp criticism from former team mentor Virender Sehwag.
In batting, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal have been one of the most dominant opening duos of the IPL. In the last game too, they put on 120 runs in 11.5 overs but none of them could stay back to finish the job. While Chris Gayle can destroy any attack even at the age of 41, he was kept out in the last game. In the middle-order, Nicholas Pooran, who had a horrendous outing in the first phase, looked good in the last game before he lost his bearings in the final over even as Aiden Markram was left stranded on the other side. In the bowling department, Mohammed Shami has been their prime bowler and he did well to pull things back against RR.
Young Arshdeep Singh also returned with five wickets as he and Shami bowled out RR to 185 in the last game.
However, Punjab’s spinners, especially England’s Adil Rashid, have disappointed and they will need to step up their game in the next few weeks. For Sunrisers, it is all about enjoying the remaining few games and ending on a high. With Johnny Bairstow, their season’s leading run-getter, pulling out and Australian opener David Warner in poor form, SRH have found the going tough against Delhi. The likes of Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Wriddhiman Saha, Kedar Jadhav, Abdul Samad also failed to capitalise on their starts as SRH could manage just 134 in their last game.