SRH big-hitters up against RR’s spin stars in ‘battle of nerves’ for place in IPL final


PTI, May 23, 2024, 12:50 PM IST

IPL’s best power-hitters Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma will face a very different challenge in wily spin twins Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin when Sunrisers Hyderabad take on Rajasthan Royals in a high-octane second Qualifier here on Friday.

‘Travishek’ as the duo is affectionately called by the fans have taken power-hitting to a new level. Head (533 runs at 199.62) and Abhishek (470 at 207.04) have hit 72 sixes apart from 96 boundaries between them.

If that’s not enough, they have a swashbuckler in Heinrich Klaasen (413 runs at 180), who also has 34 maximums to his credit.

But playing on an Uppal shirtfront that resembled a national highway or at the Kotla or Wankhede is completely from playing at the Chepauk where the strip will be sticky in nature.

The ball stops and stroke-makers do have a tough time when it comes to hitting through the line.

Ashwin, who has played all his cricket at this ground, knows the strip like the back of his hand and his form has improved towards the back-end of the tournament.

With the country’s best leg-spinner Chahal for company, Royals would be hoping that Head, Abhishek and Klaasen can be disposed off quickly to gain control of the proceedings. As for their bowling, the onus would once again be on T Natarajan, who has been SRH’s top wicket-taker this season, and playing on his home turf here, he would love to exploit the conditions.

Also, the experienced duo of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Cummins have a lot to deal with as the former has been wicket-less in his last two games.

SRH’s problems lie in not having two quality spinners. Mayank Markande is mediocre at best and Shahbaz Ahmed’s primary skill is willow-wielding, not bowling slow left-arm orthodox tweakers.

As for RR, the side finally ended its five-game winless streak, thanks to its all-round show against RCB.

In batting, the top-order displayed some positive signs, especially Yashasvi Jaiswal, and he would love to continue the form ahead of the T20 World Cup in the Americas next month.

However, skipper Sanju Samson will have to do better, given that he hasn’t crossed the 20-run mark in the last three contests.

In the middle order, Dhruv Jurel will be under pressure, having failed to enter the double digits in his last two outings.

The side would also be relying on its Caribbean game-changers Shimron Hetmyer and West Indies T20 skipper Rovman Powell for some power-hitting that they displayed against RCB.

Riyan Parag, who has displayed some serious form this term, is also one of their bankable batters.

Squads: SRH: Abhishek Sharma, Travis Head, Heinrich Klaasen (wk), Aiden Markram, Abdul Samad, Nitish Reddy, Shahbaz Ahmed, Pat Cummins (c), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat, T Natarajan, Mayank Markande, Umran Malik, Anmolpreet Singh, Glenn Phillips (wk), Rahul Tripathi, Washington Sundar, Upendra Yadav (wk), Jhathavedh Subramanyan, Sanvir Singh, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Marco Jansen, Akash Maharaj Singh and Mayank Agarwal.

RR: Sanju Samson (c & wk), Abid Mushtaq, Avesh Khan, Dhruv Jurel, Donovan Ferreira, Kuldeep Sen, Kunal Singh Rathore, Nandre Burger, Navdeep Saini, Ravichandran Ashwin, Riyan Parag, Sandeep Sharma, Shimron Hetmyer, Shubham Dubey, Rovman Powell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Trent Boult, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Yuzvendra Chahal and Tanush Kotian.

Match starts: 7.30 pm (IST)

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