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regular-article-logo Thursday, 13 June 2024

Indian Premier League: Last throw of dice in race to be No. 2 

A victory for the Royals will mean they will finish in the top two while Sunrisers will hope that KKR prevail in Guwahati and they claim full points at home

Our Bureau Calcutta Published 19.05.24, 10:32 AM
Travis Head and Sanju Samson will be the key for their respective teams on Sunday.

Travis Head and Sanju Samson will be the key for their respective teams on Sunday. PTI

Sunday's double header will decide which team finishes No.2 in the league table. Sunrisers Hyderabad meet Punjab Kings in Hyderabad while Rajasthan Royals take on Kolkata Knight Riders, who have already sealed the top position.

A victory for the Royals will mean they will finish in the top two while Sunrisers will hope that KKR prevail in Guwahati and they claim full points at home.

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There is forecast of rain in both Hyderabad and Guwahati, and in case both the matches are abandoned, the Royals will go through. Sunrisers, however, have a better net run-rate than the Sanju Samson-led side.

The Royals are on a losing streak, despite sealing a top-four finish, having lost their last four matches. Even the inconsistent Punjab Kings prevailed over the Royals in their last match.

Punjab will be missing several of their regular players, including stand-in captain Sam Curran and Jonny Bairstow, who have both returned home in preparation for the World Cup.

Jitesh Sharma is expected to lead on Saturday in place of regular captain Shikhar Dhawan. "The mood is more positive in the dressing room than before because we have nothing to lose now. The season has been inconsistent for us. But we played really good cricket and we had many positives throughout the season," said Jitesh.

The Sunrisers, however, have had a seven-day break after their fiery performance against Lucknow Super Giants, which got extended to 10 days of non-action due to their washout against the Gujarat Titans.

High-scoring games have been the flavour of Hyderabad and this match too is expected to follow the trend. Showers disrupted the practice sessions on Saturday and more rain is forecast on the match day.

The Royals seem to have lost steam as we approach the business end of the tournament. Jos Buttler's absence at the top of the order has been unsettling and it reflected in their performance in the last match.

But Shane Bond, Royals' bowling coach, maintained despite the defeat they remained "hard to beat" and were "one better game" away from finding their mojo back.

"We are pretty good. Obviously, we are disappointed," Bond had said. "It is never a great feeling when you are losing games in a row, then your mind plays back to what-ifs. What if we won against the Sunrisers? But you have to get some perspective too. Even with the four losses in a row, we are second and have qualified. It just takes one better game from us to turn things around and we are capable..."

KKR don't wish to rest on their laurels. "This is not the time for rest. I and the team believe that momentum is very important and we will take this as a playoff practice match and give our best," Ramandeep Singh said.

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