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IPL 2024, Qualifier 1: Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad look to put on a show | Cricket News

Even batting firepower, bowling strength make it a potential humdinger
AHMEDABAD: A staggering 1,208 sixes in 70 matches have been struck in the current edition of IPL. Leading the count with 160 in 13 matches, is none other than Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), whose batting has personified their fearless approach and helped them climb from bottom (last year) to second (this year) position in the table.
Led by the dynamic Australian pacer Pat Cummins, SRH will be eager to go the distance this time around. But first, they will have to cross a hurdle in the form of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the first qualifier in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
Mentored by Gautam Gambhir, under whom KKR won their two IPL titles in 2014 and 2016, the Knight Riders have been the form team this season. The opening pair of West Indian Sunil Narine and Englishman Phil Salt, who has left for national duty, have hit the new ball bowlers to all parts of the ground. But with both their last league matches getting rained off, Kolkata haven’t been able to test Salt’s like-for-like replacement, Rahmanullah Gurbaz.
The middle-order comprising Venkatesh Iyer, captain Shreyas Iyer, southpaw Nitish Rana have sustained the momentum provided by the openers while Rinku Singh and Andre Russell have chipped in with vital contributions down the order.


The Sunrisers’ bowling mix of veteran pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, left-arm pacer T Natarajan and Cummins will test the KKR batting. With Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga missing in action, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth has provided the spin bowling option along with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Ahmed.
SRH have matched KKR’s might at the top of the order with left-handed batters Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma going hammer and tongs from the first ball.
Even in their last league match against Punjab Kings, despite losing Head for a first-ball duck in pursuit of 215, SRH batted aggressively to cross the line in the last over.
Sharma has been a revelation. Coming off a stellar domestic season, in which he helped Punjab clinch the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy last year, the left-handed batter has dazzled fans and even opponents with his repertoire of strokeplay. Head and Sharma both strike at a rate in excess of 200, enough to send shivers in the opposition ranks.


Rahul Tripathi, Reddy and Heinrich Klassen provide the impetus in the middle order while Abdul Samad and Ahmed are also capable hitters. They will be up against KKR pacer Mitchell Starc, who might not have lived up to his hefty price tag but can decimate any batting unit with his full-length deliveries.
Harshit Rana (16 wickets) and Vaibhav Arora have bowled well in tandem while the spin bowling duo of Varun Chakaravarthy (18 wickets) ) and Narine (15 wickets) have not only been difficult to get away but have struck whenever the team needed them.
In the only clash between the two teams earlier this season, KKR edged SRH by four runs in a high-scoring thriller at the Eden Garden. If that game is anything to go by, Ahmedabad should be in for a humdinger of a clash.
Following last Monday’s rain which washed out Gujarat’s last home match against KKR, the weather has been very hot, and it remains to be seen how the playing surface will play out.

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