KKR have the edge playing at home © PTI
KKR have the edge playing at home © PTI

Only two matches separate the potential winners from the VIVO IPL 2018 trophy. At present, the top three teams from the league stages are still alive in the competition. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have made it to the summit clash, and we will know the other finalist after the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR)-Sunrisers Hyderabad‘s (SRH) encounter on Friday. Both the teams have so far played each other twice, winning and losing one each. Current form and home advantage, however, put Dinesh Karthik-led KKR ahead.

Let us put it this way. SRH got the better of KKR for the first time playing in their backyard in their first face-off of the season. At that point of time SRH were on a roll. They started off well, won several consecutive matches, and defended everything. The momentum was with them. KKR, on the other hand, were content with a graph with an up-and-down movement.

During the reverse encounter, Match 54 of IPL 2018, KKR were playing for survival in SRH’s fortress, at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Uppal. They prevailed to qualify for the Playoffs with their third consecutive win. In short, both sides had the last laugh on account of ‘momentum’ against each other.

SRH will draw some motivation from their first-ever win at Eden Gardens earlier in the tournament, but it should also be remembered that they were in ominous form at that point. The momentum has now shifted towards KKR. To fan the fire, KKR are coming to Qualifier 2 with 4 successive wins. On the other hand, SRH have lost 4 on the trot.

In addition, KKR have 5 players who have more than 300 runs in the current edition (while Nitish Rana has 282). Contrary to this, SRH have only two batsmen in rich form (Orange Cap holder and skipper Kane Williamson and opener Shikhar Dhawan); nobody else has made it to the 300-run mark.

It is safe to say that KKR are currently ahead of SRH. However, as Chris Lynn pointed out, T20 is a funny game and the momentum sways at any given point. SRH were hurt by their narrow defeat against CSK. They will give in their all to stop a rampant KKR. Expect a mouth-watering contest.

SRH likely XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey/Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Carlos Brathwaite, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Kaul.

KKR likely XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla, Javon Searles/Tom Curran/Shivam Mavi, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna

Predictions: As mentioned, expect a close encounter for this eliminator. KKR lead in the overall head-to-head record (8:5) and hold the momentum. However, it may come down to KKR’s spin trio versus SRH’s pace battery.