Ahead of today’s IPL match, here are the major talking points:
Warner vs Smith
One year after they were banned for ball-tampering in a Test match in South Africa, Warner and Smith will meet in the IPL. The pair – never again to be named Australian captain and vice-captain – have played in T20 leagues in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean over the past 12 months but this is where the focus is: the IPL, the biggest franchise cricket tournament in the world. (VIDEO:Winless Rajasthan and Hyderabad clash in chase for first points)
Warner and Smith are towering figures for SRH and RR respectively, both as top-order batsmen and tacticians. Whatever happens on Friday, plenty of focus will be on these two Australians.
Will Williamson return?
The management has said that the decision will be taken today before the toss. Kane Williamson, who led Hyderabad to last year’s IPL final, was recently sidelined with shoulder injury. He did not play on Sunday, but having batted in the nets Thursday all signs are that Williamson will slot back in. Which is huge for Hyderabad.
With Warner back, SRH have a superb starter and the temptation to include Bairstow alongside the Australia will be great. Add in Williamson at No 3, and that is a top order worth its weight in gold. Shakib, however, is a very experienced campaigner whose success with bat and ball have been vital for Sunrisers.
A very tough call. If Bairstow goes out, SRH will also need to draft in a wicketkeeper and drop another Indian player.
Will Bhuvneshwar get his hundred?
The spearhead of Hyderabad’s bowling, Bhuvneshwar Kumar needs four wickets to become the first SRH bowler to 100 wickets in the IPL. In 72 games, the seam bowler has claimed 96 wickets for Hyderabad at an average of 20.94, strike-rate of 17.08 and economy of 7.35.
The next best for the franchise is Rashid Khan with 39 from 32 matches.
In a subplot to today’s match, Bhuvneshwar has dismissed Rajasthan captain Ajinkya Rahane six times in 13 matches. In those matches, Rahane has scored 71 runs off 78 balls faced from Bhuvneshwar.
Pressure on Unadkat
The joint highest earner at December’s auction when he was re-purchased by Royals for a whopping Rs 8.4 crore, Jaydev Unadkat has plenty riding on him.
The left-arm pace bowler, capped 18 times by India, did not have a good 2018 IPL. In 15 games, he claimed 11 wickets an 44.18 apiece and with an economy rate of 9.65.
In Rajasthan’s opener versus Punjab, Unadkat conceded 44 runs in three wicketless overs of which 19 came in one over to Chris Gayle in a period in which the West Indian scored 51 runs off 21 balls.
Against the likes of Warner and Bairstow and with Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda to follow, Unadkat could run into trouble if he has another off day.
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