IPL 2013 Preview: Sunrisers Hyderabad hold edge over Rajasthan Royals in Eliminator

The Sunrisers Hyderabad have the edge in this encounter as they are also coming on the back of two wins, as compared to two losses for Rajasthan Royals © IANS

By Jaideep Vaidya

New Delhi: May 21, 2013

Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to take advantage of the internal disarray within the Rajasthan Royals squad when the two teams face off in the Eliminator of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Wednesday at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

The spot-fixing controversy which has marred the tournament last week has hit the Royals the most, with all three accused players coming from the Rajasthan camp. After the scandal broke on May 16, the Royals lost their last league game of the season, coincidentally against the Sunrisers, by 23 runs and Rahul Dravid will hope that his team shakes off the blues in time for the all-important knock-out match in Delhi against the same opponents.

The Sunrisers have the edge in this encounter as they are also coming on the back of two wins, as compared to two losses for Rajasthan. However, if they do want to progress to the next round, their batsmen will have to step up and support the bowlers. Hyderabad have crossed 160 just two out of the eight times they have elected to bat first, and have even struggled to chase low totals of 130-140.

It’s their bowlers who have more often than not picked up the brooms and done the cleaning up, and while Sunrisers do have a fine bowling attack — arguably the best in the league — spearheaded by Dale Steyn, they wouldn’t mind their batsmen stepping up once in a while, especially now at the business end of the tournament.

The Sunrisers’ problem lies in the fact that there is a deep abyss in their batting line-up after the two openers. Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel have done well to provide good starts, but the rest of the line-up has just failed to build on the impetus provided by the opening pair.

Captain Cameron White has to lead by example; an average of 16.18 in 12 matches does not speak well of a batsman-skipper. Darren Sammy has done well after coming into the tournament late, providing vital pick-me-ups in the lower middle-order; so has Thisara Perera, who is a typical No 6 batsman and quick to score runs in the death. But the young guns like Hanuma Vihari and Biplab Samantray need to step up and take their game to the next level in the knock-outs. If SRH can post totals in excess of 160-170, it would be a walk in the park for their bowlers to defend it.

Rajasthan, meanwhile, were tigers in their own den, maintaining an unbeaten record at Fortress Jaipur, but managed to win just two games on the road. They will have to get over that mind barrier at Delhi if they want to progress, even though the ground would be a neutral one for both teams.

Rajasthan have an advantage over their opponents in the fact that they have had two extra days of rest prior to this match. A statement released by the team said that they have regrouped following a weekend break. Their vastly experienced skipper Dravid will have to ensure that his team enter the match on a fresh slate and erase everything that has happened over the week from their minds before entering the field.

Rajasthan Royals have looked one of the most balanced outfits this season, with the entire team contributing on the field. True, they are now three bowlers short, but this gives the chance for someone experienced like Brad Hogg to come in and take the responsibility. Of course, the overseas players rule would have some impact in Hogg’s selection. Pravin Tambe, on the other hand, has not been so effective; the Royals could give young Harmeet Singh another go. Kevon Cooper always available to keep it tight at one end and provide breakthroughs. The quick bowling looks sorted as James Faulkner leads the attack, with Shane Watson and Siddharth Trivedi there for company.

You could say this is the battle of the dark horses at Delhi. Not many expected these two teams to make it so far at the start of the tournament. But the way they have played through the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if one of them actually makes the final.

Teams:

Rajasthan Royals (Probable): Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid (c), Shane Watson, Sanju Samson, Stuart Binny, Brad Hodge, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Kevon Cooper, James Faulkner, Siddharth Trivedi, Harmeet Singh.

Sunrisers Hyderabad (Probable): Shikhar Dhawan, Parthiv Patel (wk), Hanuma Vihari, Cameron White (c), Darren Sammy, Biplab Samantray, Thisara Perera, Dale Steyn, Karan Sharma, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma.

Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT

(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog – The Mullygrubber )