HYDERABAD:Sunrisers Hyderabad seems to have stepped into a different zone as the Indian Premier League inches closer to the play-off phase.
With 14 points off seven wins from 10 games and the best net run-rate, the David Warner-led team should start favourites to get the better of fourth-placed Delhi Daredevils (10 points from nine games) under lights at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
It is increasingly becoming clear this season that Sunrisers has the most effective attack of all — be it bowling first or second. That they bowled their hearts out to defend achievable totals twice in Visakhapatnam to down the formidable Mumbai Indians and struggling Rising Pune Supergiants in back-to-back games was testimony to their efficiency.
Moises Henriques summed it up aptly after beating Dhoni’s men in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday when he said: “Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) is a genius who always gives great starts. Ashish Nehra is a reliable, crafty customer, hitting the wicket hard. We all have different roles.”
This is exactly the reason why Sunrisers attack is so difficult to get away on any pitch as there is the ever-dangerous, left-arm duo of Barinder Sran and Mustafizur Rahman who are ensuring that the heat is on with their accuracy and swing.
In batting, the in-form Warner will be delighted with the way his partner Shikhar Dhawan is rising to the occasion in the second half of this season after early blues.
Though the middle-order struggled against the leg-spin of Adam Zampa the other night, it will be interesting to see whether Warner may look to replacing Kane Williamson with Eoin Morgan.
On the other hand, Delhi, which lost to Kings XI Punjab in its last game in Mohali, has to really put up a stand-out performance to get the better of the host.
The batting line-up has familiar names like in-form Quinton de Kock, Sanju Samson, Jean-Paul Duminy, Karun Nair and Carlos Brathwaite who can help the team’s cause with big knocks.
What should have been a huge disappointment for Delhi was the poor run of Pawan Negi, the richest Indian player in this IPL (bought at Rs. 8.5 crores) with just 51 runs from five games.
In bowling, Delhi should bank once again on the leg-spinners — Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir — it is not certain whether both of them will play on Thursday — while the new-ball bowlers Zaheer Khan, Chris Morris and Mohammed Shami are expected to provide the early breakthroughs.
It will be a major surprise if Daredevils get the better of the home team.
Speaking to the media, Delhi Daredevils batsman J-P. Duminy said the team did have a planning session to counter the bowling attack of Sunrisers Hyderabad which they believe is the strong-point of the home team.
“We are aware that the next five games will be really tough and even as we are working hard to improve in certain areas, we are determined to finish the league phase on a high,” Duminy told the media.
“We had a good break and every player is fresh and hopefully have seen some of the matches to get a feel of the challenges ahead,” the southpaw said.
“There is always scope for improvement and we wish to keep improving in the last few games as the first objective is to book a slot in the play-offs,” Duminy said.