Indian Premier League: Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders meet in final of ‘pioneering’ batters | Cricket News

Could an IPL final get any more hipster than this? Well maybe, if everyone’s favourite men in pink, the Rajasthan Royals, got to the main event but Sunrisers Hyderabad are a pretty fashionable team these days.

Kolkata Knight Riders have always been a trendy choice for the discerning cricket fan. Everything from the iconic purple and gold kit to the name to the superstar Bollywood owners to the swashbuckling style of play make the Knight Riders a very recognisable and popular brand.

The problem was, even though they have had very entertaining sides over the years, success has been very elusive since Gautam Gambhir led them to two titles in 2012 and 2014.

Live Indian Premier League

Sunday 26th May 2:50pm

In recent times things had got even worse with KKR going into almost every season with a strong starting XI on paper but failing to translate that onto the grass – in four of the last five seasons they haven’t got out of the group stage.

So what’s changed? KKR have had good opening pairs in the past – Gambhir and Robin Uthappa spring to mind immediately – but none that have been as aggressive as Phil Salt and Sunil Narine.

Before sides might send out one aggressive opener with a more sedate one, but KKR and Sunrisers are the two teams this year that have pioneered this new tactic of going as hard as humanly possible in the powerplay.

In Kolkata’s case it means the powerful middle order of Venky Iyer, Shreyas Iyer, Rinku Singh and Andre Russell have an incredible platform from which to launch even further. Nitish Rana can’t even get into the XI.

The batting has been sensational and rightly been lauded but it obscures the fact that the real strength of this team is the bowling attack.

The Knight Riders have traditionally built their attack around spin and it’s no different this year with Narine and Varun Chakravarthy proven as two of the most reliable spinners in the world.

The game changer for KKR in 2024 though has been having a reliable quartet of fast bowlers for the first time in a long while.

The two young Indian seamers Harshit Rana and Vaibhav Arora have massively exceeded expectations, Russell continues to chip in with wickets and Starc hasn’t been at his best but delivered when it mattered in the crucial first qualifier.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Shahbaz Ahmed (centre) celebrates the wicket of Rajasthan Royals' Ravichandran Ashwin (left) during the second qualifier cricket match
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Shahbaz Ahmed (centre) celebrates the wicket of Rajasthan Royals’ Ravichandran Ashwin (left) during the second qualifier cricket match

KKR have five bowlers with 15 wickets or more and no team has scored more than 153 against them in the last four matches. If you have that kind of bowling depth you deserve to be champions.

The Sunrisers became a real force between 2016 and 2020 when they made the play offs for five seasons in row.

It was based on a pretty simple formula – a heavy scoring opening pair (usually David Warner and Jonny Bairstow) and a brilliant bowling attack.

They became famous for being able to defend middling or low totals. But things unravelled badly when the owners decided to shake up the squad and made some bad decisions at the auctions. It got so bad that in the last three years they have finished no higher than eighth.

For the first time since the Warner days, Hyderabad have a team to believe in and the ultra-aggression of Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma has not only rewritten the powerplay record books but also won the Sunrisers a new legion of young fans.

Suddenly the first six overs of a Sunrisers’ innings has become absolute must-watch television.

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Nitish Kumar Reddy and captain Pat Cummins celebrates the run out of Punjab Kings' Shashank Singh
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Nitish Kumar Reddy and captain Pat Cummins celebrates the run out of Punjab Kings’ Shashank Singh

My only concern about Pat Cummins’ team is their lack of a gun spinner. It hasn’t held them back too much so far – and their part-time spinners really shone in the second qualifier – but if the final becomes a shoot out between the two sides’ spinners then I would back Narine and Chakravarthy every day of the week. It’s in Chennai, so there is always a chance that it will.

Whatever happens on Sunday both sides have unearthed some young gems that we will be seeing in the IPL for many years to come.

In fact, it feels like this tournament has in some ways seen a handing of the torch over to the next generation and a new way of playing T20.

I’ve picked an eleven to watch, as Ian Bishop would say – ‘remember the name!’.

1. Abhishek Sharma (Sunrisers Hyderabad): Has actually been around for a while – he burst onto the scene for Delhi as a 17 year old in 2018 – but this year he has taken his game to new, steep heights. Just look at the numbers. Can India afford to keep him out of the T20 side for much longer?

2. Sai Sudarshan (Gujarat Titans): A consistent force for Gujarat for a couple of years now and someone who looks very much an all-format player. In fact, he may even have a greater future in India’s ODI middle order than in the T20 side.

3. Angkrish Raghuvanshi (Kolkata Knight Riders): Tall, powerful right hander who at just 18 years old has massive potential. If he wasn’t in such a strong squad as KKR he would’ve played a lot more.

4. Jake Fraser-McGurk (Delhi Capitals): How is this guy not in Australia’s T20 World Cup squad?! An extraordinarily clean hitter of a cricket ball, he had the highest strike rate for a frontline batter in the tournament – an eye watering 234.

5. Nitish Kumar Reddy (Sunrisers Hyderabad): One of the surprise packages of the tournament, he played a crucial role in the Sunrisers’ middle order and has a good, easy on the eye technique. Has a strong record with the ball in red ball cricket and if he can translate that to T20 will become a player in demand.

6. Tristan Stubbs (Delhi Capitals): If Fraser-McGurk hadn’t produced such astonishing feats for the same team then Stubbs would have been lauded as the best young overseas player in the tournament. Potentially South Africa’s next big batting star.

7. Abhishek Porel (Delhi Capitals): Usually an opener but can provide power down the order too. Might want to move to a franchise without Rishabh Pant in it so he can keep wicket every game.

8. Harshit Rana (Kolkata Knight Riders): One of the new breed of Indian fast bowlers – tall, imposing and in your face. Loved watching his battles with equally aggressive batters, he never shied away from confrontation.

9. Mayank Yadav (Lucknow Super Giants): Played just four games due to injury but made a huge impact. Nothing quite excites like a tearaway fast bowler, and that’s exactly what Mayank is. I really hope he can get back on the park because those rockets need to be seen again soon.

10. Matheesha Pathirana (Chennai Super Kings): The new Malinga looks a really tough prospect for any batters with his awkward action and over 90mph pace. CSK looked a different side without him.

11. Noor Ahmad (Gujarat Titans): Left-arm wrist spinner with a lot of talent and very hard to pick. At 19 years old he has already played almost 100 T20s. Could be the next Afghan spin sensation.

Watch the IPL final on Sunday from 2.50pm on Sky Sports Action, as well as all four matches of England’s men’s T20I series against Pakistan, and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA live on Sky Sports Cricket. Also stream with NOW.

Source link

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *