Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2016, Eliminator: Likely XI comparison

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) had a good run at the top position of the points table for a major part of the tournament and with two games remaining, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) were sitting comfortably at the top. The teams have themselves to blame as they stumbled on the final hurdles of the group stage. SRH finished with 16 points and third position and KKR scraped through to playoffs with same number of points and a net run-rate of decimals below their counterparts tonight.

All the toil over the last 46 days now counts to nothing as the side face each other in an eliminator game at a fairly unknown territory — Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. Unknown to the teams, as one hails from Kolkata and another down south in Hyderabad but the marquee players of both the sides know a lot about this territory. KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir is a Delhi stalwart and has played all his cricket in budding years in this city. He continues to lead Delhi in domestic cricket, while even SRH opener Shikhar Dhawan is one of the mainstays of Delhi domestic team. Heading to the contest, their knowledge of the venue will be invaluable to the sides.

The availability of Andre Russell, who missed the last games due to a leg injury he sustained against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), will be an issue for KKR. Russell is undoubtedly the best player in the side, who possesses the ability to win games with both, bat and ball. Even if 80 percent fit, Russell will be pushed to the XI. Even the SRH camp will miss the services of veteran Ashish Nehra, who had been very good this season but was ruled out and had to undergo a knee surgery in London yesterday.

For SRH, Moises Henriques is the answer to Russell. He can play a good hand with the bat and is more than an effective bet with the ball. However, all eyes will be on the mystery bowlers in both camps. Sunil Narine’s return to form is good news for KKR while the young Mustafizur Rahman has been phenomenal.

Despite Yuvraj Singh’s cameos, middle-order is a concern for SRH and once again, the onus will be on Dhawan and David Warner to give good starts. Warner has been in good form and having played for Delhi Daredevils (DD) in his early IPL days, he will know the venue well.

While there is no doubt that SRH are a better bowling unit, KKR with Russell in the side, wear a more balanced look and they will draw solace from the fact that they have beaten SRH both the times they have encountered them this season.

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(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)