The Sunrisers Hyderabad welcome the Delhi Daredevils to the Rajiv Gandhi this Wednesday in IPL action.The reigning champions will clash with the perennial underachievers on Wednesday, when the hosts will have the chance to build on Sunday's victory over the Kings XI Punjab, while the visitors need to recover from defeat at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Sunrisers are unbeaten at home this season - and the Daredevils are chasing a second victory away from their beloved Feroz Shah Kotla this year. The stage, indeed, is set for an intriguing encounter.
SRH vs DD | Wednesday, 19 April 2017 | Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium | 16:30
To Win Match
Sunrisers 67/100 | Tie 35/1 | Daredevils 5/4
Defeat to the Kings XI Punjab late last week would have seen Hyderabad smarting from three consecutive defeats. Their quest for a successful title defence, however, is back on track - thanks largely to the cool, calm and collection of seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Whenever the opposition threaten to derail Hyderabad's plans, Kumar is at hand to restore the advantage.
This will need to be the case again, particularly if the Sunrisers insist on sidelining the veteran Ashish Nehra and Australian Ben Cutting again. Nehra is evidently a waning force, but the extended omission of Cutting, who was named Man of the Match in last year's final, would be perplexing.
Afghanistan spinners Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan were solid enough in tandem against Punjab - and the Delhi batting order would do well to learn from the mistakes of the left-handed David Miller, Eoin Morgan and company: don't go back to the slow bowlers. Kings XI opener Manan Vohra, too, showed Khan is fallible if attacked outside the Powerplay - and early in the over.
Hyderabad simply must improve on their fielding. Boundary rider Shikhar Dhawan and ring fielder Yuvraj Singh's mistakes were costly on the weekend, while the Daredevils have been characteristically tight close - and in the deep - throughout the tournament. Kolkata dropped the big-hitting Chris Morris twice - and Dhawan and team-mates can ill afford to make the same mistakes.
Delhi relied on back-to-back half-centuries from South African Quinton de Kock during last season's fixtures against the Sunrisers, but are without him this year. The growing argument that fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant arrive at the crease earlier in proceedings, then, is entirely warranted. Wednesday's match should see him bat at three, ahead of middle-order duo Karun Nair and Shreyas Iyer.
Two tactics, in particular, need to be heeded. If unable to take wickets, the Daredevils must accumulate a relatively lengthy stretch of deliveries without conceding a boundary. If successful with early breakthroughs, like against the Knight Riders, the job needs to be finished - and quickly enough. The first- and second-change bowlers, after captain Zaheer Khan and Aussie Pat Cummins, must oblige.
The Daredevils' batsmen can also learn a lot from Vohra, who exploited isolated weaknesses in the Hyderabad bowling attack. Local pair Siddarth Kaul and Barinder Sran were ineffective during the counterattack, while all-rounder Moises Henriques was underbowled. Henriques, though, should be afforded more overs if Cutting doesn't play again.
Sri Lankan Angelo Mathews replaced the ill Corey Anderson on Sunday, but the New Zealander should return 72 hours later. His big-hitting ability was missed - and will be a welcome return to an XI lacking a genuine batting superstar from abroad. Englishman Sam Billings might take umbrage from this statement, but isn't yet at the levels achieved by Anderson.
Verdict: Sunrisers Hyderabad 67/100
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium is a veritable fortress for the hosts, who have engaged its conditions superbly this season. Momentum, all captains will tell you, is very important in Twenty20 cricket. The Sunrisers have it, the Daredevils don't.