Desperate to get over the rough patch and seal their berth in the playoffs, defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Monday will face the current table leaders Mumbai Indians (MI) on the 48th fixture of the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017.

Hyderabad tonight will be playing the last game in front of their home crowd at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium before the team heads for an away game against Gujarat Lions. David Warner will want to capitalise on their home run so far — won 5 out of 7 matches — to up their chances to qualify and exert pressure on tailing Kings XI Punjab.

Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, has already qualified for the playoffs with their superb win over Delhi in their last fixture two days ago — beat Daredevils in the capital by 146 runs, also bowled them out for a meagre 66.

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Sunrisers Hyderabad after a good take off to the points table have suffered two defeats on a trot — lost to Rising Pune Supergiant by 12 runs; lost to Delhi Daredevils by six wickets. The team needs to bounce back to winning days to ensure a safe passage to the playoffs without any further hiccups.

SRH Captain David Warner has been leading the side with an impressive all-around performance so far. He is the current Orange cap holder with 529 runs from 11 matches and has led the team well on the field as well so far.

With the IPL tournament heading to a closure and the margin of error narrowing down, Coach Tom Moody and skipper Warner will have to get back to the drawing board and fill the loose ends in the team.

To begin with, Hyderabad needs to get rid of their dependence on their top order to fire in every game.

So far the trio of Warner (529 runs), Shikhar Dhawan (388 runs) and Kane Williamson (232 runs) have been a nightmare of the opposition bowlers from the word ‘play’.

 

 

The top three now need to ensure that one of them anchors the inning in the middle and contributes to a big score if they fancy any chance to defend their IPL title.

The middle order of Hyderabad has so far only seen the patches of good runs from Yuvraj Singh (234 runs in 10 matches) and Moises Henriques (229 runs in 10 matches). Both of them have shown the tendency of giving away their wickets at the crucial junctures in the game — puts SRH under tremendous pressure.

The form of Yuvraj Singh means a lot to Hyderabad fortune. The left-handed batsman has given away good starts in an attempt to accelerate the innings. Yuvraj will have to back his skills and not go after every delivery— plan the assault instead.

Coach Tom Moody and VVS Laxman will have to talk to their wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha who has failed to leave a mark so far in this IPL season.

 

 

The flashy lower order batsman from Madhya Pradesh — 63 runs in 11 matches — has been disappointing and hurts the team during the death overs. With no time to experiment with his position, Ojha should spend more time in the nets and back his ability that has helped him savour the bowlers for such a long time in the domestic circuit.

Sunrisers Hyderabad also faces a grim disadvantage of heavily dependent on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the Afghan IPL entrant Rashid Khan in the bowling department.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been in a phenomenal form and has started this years’ IPL right where he left last time. The Purple cap holder — 21 wickets in 11 matches — has been instrumental in providing the early breakthrough and bowl with a tidy spell during the death overs.

The Afghan IPL entrant Rashid Khan with 13 wickets in 11 matches has been a revelation and a treat to SRH management and the cricketing fans — minus the opponents.

Ashish Nehra who suffered a hamstring injury during SRH last game against RPS will miss out on tonight ‘s game. His exit means that Mohammed Siraj — 6 wickets in 4 matches — is most likely to get picked against MI match.

Hyderabad needs to ensure that the entire team’s chips in. They have done it last year and they can do it again this time around as well.

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Having already qualified for the playoffs Mumbai Indians are playing having a fabulous IPL season so far.

Riding high on all round performance and three wins on a trot — beat Daredevils by 146 runs; beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by five wickets and beat Gujarat Lions in the Super Over — Rohit Sharma-led side looks a daunting challenge against for all other seven teams in the tournament.

The two-time IPL champions — the year 2013, 2015 — Mumbai Indians will come to this game with an aim to cement the top-two finish before the playoffs.

The balanced Mumbai Indians top-order with the likes of Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler has given the team a stable start within the Power Play. Together Parthiv and Buttler have added 536 runs as openers.

As Jos Buttler leaves for the national duty for England, incoming opening partner Lendl Simmons — 66 runs in 1 match against Delhi Daredevils on Saturday — has started right where the Englishman Buttler left his inning.

Coach Mahela Jayawardene will be particularly very pleased with MIs batting middle order.

Right where all the IPL teams seem to be struggling in a case of an early removal of their openers, Mumbai Indians has the luxury of a strong core — performing as well.

The astounding figures of Nitish Rana (312 runs in 11 matches) and Kieron Pollard (294 runs in 11 matches ) completes the story of a team where the middle order has successfully cashed on the stable starts provided by their openers.

 

 

Mumbai will also be relieved that their Captain Rohit Sharma has hinted of coming back to the groove. The skipper was sensational in the field against Delhi Daredevils to pluck two absolutely ripper catches — in short cover and in the slips.

Well aware of the talented right-handed batsman Rohit Sharma will want to get back to sunny days as quickly as possible.

The brother pair of Hardik and Krunal Pandya has been the been the trump card for the Mumbai Indians during the pressure situation while chasing or launching the onslaught during the death overs.

Besides the bowling prowess and athletic fielding has made them the most successful sibling pair of the IPL. Together the duo has scored 316 runs and scalped 14 wickets between themselves.

Krunal Pandya, however, will not be playing tonight due to an injury paving way for Karn Sharma (expectedly).

 

 

Coach Mahela Jayawardene will also be pleased with the way their bowlers have bowled throughout the series. The disciplined performances by — Jasprit Bumrah (13 wickets), Harbhajan Singh (8 wickets), Lasith Malinga (8 wickets) and Mitchell McClenaghan (16 wickets) — have together transformed the fortunes for the Mumbai Indians.

The problem is such that the likes of Mitchel Johnson, Tim Southee are warming the dugout for Mumbai Indians.

The exuberant experience of the players in Mumbai side is unmatched and the team appears will settle for nothing except the coveted IPL 2017 trophy.

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Mumbai Indians has defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad 3 times out of the 5 encounters between them in the IPL.

Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium has been SRH fortress for the second straight IPL season. With the final stage so close not, expect no mercy.

First Published | 8 May 2017 5:52 PM
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