The Gujarat Lions and the Sunrisers Hyderabad go head to head in the second qualifier of IPL 2016.
It's last chance saloon time for both the Gujarat Lions and the Sunrisers Hyderabad as the two franchises battle it out for the opportunity to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the final on Sunday evening.
Can the Sunrisers book their place in the IPL final for the first time in their history or will the Gujarat Lions – in their first-ever campaign – break Hyderabad hearts?
Gujarat Lions vs Sunrisers Hyderabad | Friday 27 May | Pune | 16:30
To Win Match
Gujarat Lions 8/10 | Tie 35/1 | Sunrisers Hyderabad 1/1
The Gujarat Lions have enjoyed a dream first season in the Indian Premier League and could well have claimed their place in the final already had it not been for a stunning AB de Villiers innings in the first qualifier.
With early wickets tumbling all around him and only tail-enders left to come in, de Villiers produced a masterful innings, smashing his way to an unbeaten 79 from just 47 balls. Fortunately, however for the Lions; they’ll get a second crack at getting into the final via the second qualifier. that pits them against a Sunrisers side that aren’t really cut from the same cloth as RCB.
If they are to get past the Hyderabad franchise, they’ll need a much better showing from their top order. In my preview for the first qualifier, I tipped Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum, and Suresh Raina to put in big performances at the top of the order - the three failed dismally, managing a meagre six runs between them.
Only Dwayne Smith put in the sort of performance that you’d expect from a top international player with a 41-ball 73. What’s most concerning for the Lions, is the fact that their three world-class top order batsmen couldn’t lay a decent foundation on which the lower and middle order could build against one of the weakest bowling attacks in the competition.
If the Gujrat Lions are to beat the Sunrisers on Friday evening, their bowlers will have to nullify the opening pair of David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan. It comes as no real surprise that when these two don’t perform, the Hyderabad franchise go on to lose. Dhawal Kulkarni will look to repeat his heroics against the Royal Challengers where he dismissed Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul in the space of two overs. If Raina and his team can make early in-roads, they stand a very good chance of advancing to a debut-season final.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad overcame a dogged Kolkata Knight Riders side that seemed to just run out of steam as the season reached its business end. The loss of Andre Russell took the sting out of their bowling attack as well as their lower order prowess.
As mentioned earlier, the Sunrisers’ hopes probably hinge on the performances of Dhawan and Warner. The two have been magnificent the season and have provided the catalyst that the Hyderabad franchise has needed to advance to the latter stages of the tournament. Warner has smashed his way to 686 competition runs while Dhawan – who has opted for a more cautious approach – has bagged 473 runs this season.
While much has been made of these two, I’ve been most impressed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mustafizur Rahman. The two seamers have been sensational this season bagging 37 wickets between them. Rahman, in particular, looks as though he could be destined for big things. The 20-year-old Bangladeshi seamer has a number of tricks up his sleeve including a devastating off-cutter – the perfect delivery for dry, grippy Indian decks.
Looking ahead, the Sunrisers will head to Pune knowing that they are the underdogs for the clash – something that will suit them perfectly. They’ve thrived with the underdog tag affixed to their names all season and could well cause a surprise or two in the tournament.
Verdict: Sunrisers Hyderabad 1/1
The Sunrisers are a much better team than what most pundits and punters would have you believe. They have earned their place in the qualifiers and look to be the more settled side out of the two. Back them to qualify for the maiden final against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday evening.
Value Bet: Dwayne Smith to top score for the Gujarat Lions at 5/1
Smith looked comfortable as anything in the middle order against the Royal Challengers on Tuesday evening. This coupled with Finch, McCullum, and Raina all being bang out of form makes this 5/1 shot look all the more tasty.