The 43rd match of the Indian Premier League pitted Kolkata Knight Riders, a side which had surged like a phoenix after being down and out in the initial part of the tournament, and Sunrisers Hyderabad, who, unlike 2013, are yet to find their feet in the tournament. The match that took place at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal, Hyderabad on May 18, 2014 saw the Kolkata side emerge victorious by 7 wickets and get one step closer to ensuring their places in the playoffs.
Team composition: Kolkata went in with the same team that won the last game, while Hyderabad made a significant change by relieving Shikhar Dhawan from captaincy duties and bringing back Darren Sammy as the captain instead of Moises Henriques, who has failed to perform as per expectations so far in the tournament.
Batting: The Sunrisers won the toss and opted to bat first. They were unable to achieve much of a momentum and finished with 142 for the loss of 8 wickets in the end. David Warner was the highest scorer yet again, with 34 runs from 18 balls. However, Naman Ojha (22 from 24 balls) and Irfan Pathan (23 not out from 19 deliveries) made some worthwhile contributions that boosted the total towards the end.
Chasing a modest total, the Knight Riders were given a good start by Robin Uthappa (40 from 33 balls) and Manish Pandey (35 from 32 balls). The job was completed in the end by Yusuf Pathan (39 not out from 28 balls) and Ryan ten Doeschate (25 not out from 15 balls).
Bowling: Umesh Yadav was the pick of the bowlers for KKR, with 3 for 26 in 4 overs. Sunil Narine was precise and penetrative as usual, with 1 for 21 in 4 overs and Shakib al Hasan bowled well for his 2 for 22 in 3 overs. Piyush Chawla had a good game as well, with 1 for 24 in his quota of overs. Morne Morkel had an off day and went for 39 runs in 4 overs.
When SRH bowled, Karn Sharma was the standout bowler, with 1 for 19 in his 4 overs. Dale Steyn also bowled well for his 1 for 24 in 4 overs. However, insufficient support from others – Bhuvneshwar Kumar (none for 37 in 3.4 overs), Amit Mishra (none for 38 in 4 overs) and Pathan (none for 20 in 3 overs) – meant that they lost a match that was crucial for their playoff aspirations.
Where do the teams go from here?
The Kolkata Knight Riders are now experiencing a purple patch of sorts where their batsmen are doing well and their bowlers, especially the spinners, are checking the runs and also picking up the wickets. It is a dream situation for any captain to be in, and Gautam Gambhir would be no exception.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, are once again facing the same scenario with a continued spate of losses. They need to look at their batting carefully and perhaps push Dhawan down the order at number 3, where he will be able to pace his innings better. They also need to drop the notion of playing two leg-spinners, considering that Mishra has been nowhere near his form of the last season. Perhaps players such as Parvez Rasool need to be given a chance.
The seam attack needs to change as well, and players such as Jason Holder and Chama Milind need to be given a chance to prove their true mettle. In hindsight, it may also have been a better idea to give David Warner and Aaron Finch the chance to lead the side, since their place in the team is almost fixed. That would have meant that there would have been space for including Brendan Taylor, who could have provided useful runs as well as advice by virtue of being the captain of the Zimbabwean team.