Kings XI Punjab

Kings XI Punjab (above) have 10 points and will be looking to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad at home © IANS

By Sanjay Ganjoo

Mohali: May 10, 2013

Sunrisers Hyderabad will aim to pick up pieces after their drubbing in the hands of Chennai Super Kings as they aim to get past Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at Mohali.

On paper, Sunrisers are favourites having won seven out of their 12 games and are currently at the fifth spot — a notch above Kings XI who have got 10 points.

A win on Saturday will certainly help the Hyderabad franchise in their bid to make it to the knock-out stages of the competition.

Kings XI has to win their remaining four games to give themselves even a glimmer of hope for surviving in the competition but Sunrisers also can’t afford a slip-up after their 77-run defeat against the title favourites.

Sunrisers had an unbeaten run at home clinching thrilling wins against formidable teams such as Mumbai Indians and Royals Challengers Bangalore until CSK buried them under mountain of runs the other night.

Chasing a mammoth target 224 for victory, Hyderabad could manage only 146/8, with opener Parthiv Patel (44) and unbeaten knock of 39 by leg-spinner Karan Sharma were the only saving grace in that massive defeat.

The lethal bowling attack of Sunrisers comprising of world’s best fast bowler Dale Steyn, India international Ishant Sharma and portly leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who is one of the highest wicket-takers in IPL 2013, besides dependable Sri Lankan all-rounder Thisara Perera, would look to exploit the bouncy conditions of the Mohali track.

However, on Thursday in a match against Rajasthan Royals here, Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist had found the Mohali track “slow and dry” contrary to its known nature.

Ishant Sharma will like to forget the thrashing he got at the hands of Chennai batsmen in the previous game like a bad dream.

Like Punjab, batting has been a major area of concern for the Hyderabad side, though that has shown some improvement after injured Shikhar Dhawan and West Indies captain Darren Sammy joined the team.

However, in the previous match against CSK, both failed, with Dhawan being run out. Another major area of concern for the visitors is the form of their captain Kumar Sangakkara, who has failed to put up an impressive show.

On the other hand, veteran Gilchrist, who had dropped himself after being out-of-form, scored an useful 42 against Rajasthan Royals just the other day.

The problem with the Kings XI team has been their lack of consistency in the batting department, which Gilchirst acknowledges is a serious area of concern.

The batting which comprises of players like David Hussey, Shaun Marsh, Mandeep Singh and David Miller has failed to click as a unit, and barring couple of individual performances, has let down the team on most occasions.

“Yeah, that is probably an appropriate criticism and a frustration for us that we haven’t flowed as a batting group and built any real momentum and couple of our wins out of five have been at the back of David Miller. I think that’s criticism that isn’t harsh in anyway, it’s probably accurate,” Gilchrist admitted.

However, Punjab’s strength has been their bowling attack led by medium pacer Praveen Kumar that also includes medium pacers Parvinder Awana, Manpreet Gony, leg-spinner Piyush Chawla and recent inclusion of left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma.

The home team, which plays its last IPL match of this season at Mohali on Saturday, would hope all the eleven players put up an all-round performance in the remaining games to give them some chance of qualifying for the next stage.