One will be battling for survival, the other will try to climb up the ladder in their quest for a playoffs berth. It would seem that Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals are two teams in contrast ahead of their match in Jaipur on Sunday. But that is not entirely true.
While on paper, Royals, the runners-up side last season, are definitely heavier than the Sunrisers, fact is that both of them have struggled on the pitch of late, as both have lost four of their last five games.
The Royals, especially, had a nightmare of a match against the Gujarat Titans on Friday, when they folded for just 118 and went on to lose the game by nine wickets.
It’s strange how they have wobbled despite having some of the best players in the T20 business. With 10 points so far, they will be optimistic about finding their winning touch back. A team that has Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Shimron Hetmyer, Trent Boult, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal can’t just fade away after a great start to the season.
Sunrisers’ problems are aplenty, but the biggest one is surely the disappointing returns from their biggest investment — Harry Brook. The Englishman has hardly done justice to his promise, though he has a century to boast of. Brooks’ failure with the bat has hurt Aiden Markram’s team the most and it will be interesting to see if he retains his place in the XI on Sunday.
New Zealander Glenn Phillips could be an alternative.
■ Rajasthan Royals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, 7.30pm, Jaipur, live on Star Sports & Jio Cinema
Brothers go to war for points
Calcutta: The Pandya brothers, Hardik and Krunal, will be up against each other as captains when Gujarat Titans take on Lucknow Super Giants at the Motera stadium in Ahmedabad on Sunday.
While Hardik is Titans’ regular captain, Krunal has been elevated to the role since KL Rahul has bowed out of the tournament with injury.
Defending champions Titans have started to pull ahead of the other teams as they sit pretty at the top of the standings with 14 points. Lucknow had begun the season well and have 11 points to show, but have also lost three of their last five games.
A win on Sunday will almost assure the Titans of a place in the playoffs.
Lucknow will have to rejig their XI in Rahul’s absence. They used Manan Vohra as an opener in their last game — which wasn’t completed because of rain — but perhaps giving Quinton de Kock his first IPL 2023 game would be a better idea.
It is strange that a player of De Kock’s calibre hasn’t found a place in the Lucknow XI so far just because Kyle Mayers has done good as an opener. But with Marcus Stoinis being inconsistent, the Lucknow think-tank might finally give De Kock a game. They have roped in Karun Nair as Rahul’s replacement for the remainder of the league.
The Titans come off a crushing victory over Rajasthan Royals and should be in a great space mentally, though playing at home has often boomeranged for them. All their three defeats this season has come in Ahmedabad.
Will captain Krunal manage to outsmart his younger brother? If he can, it will be Lucknow’s first-ever win over the Titans.
■ Gujarat Titans vs Lucknow Super Giants, 3.30pm, Ahmedabad, live on Star Sports & Jio Cinema