Millennium Post

KKR face toppers SRH in must-win battle

From being atop the table midway into the season, KKR had slipped out after losing the last two league matches in 2015, a scenario which would haunt them once again when they face Hyderabad in the concluding round.

Such has been the competition in the ninth season that no team sealed a play-off berth till the final weekend of the league and five teams can end up with 16 points when the net run-rate will determine the final-four. Conditions will also be a key factor with the Roanu cyclone causing rainfall in the last two days forcing the entire Eden Gardens ground to be under covers. Both the teams would be watchful of the conditions, even though a clear sky is being forecast for the match.

Leading the table with 16 points, Sunrisers have the NRR advantage and they still may sneak in despite a loss while a win will guarantee them a top-two finish amid the mad scramble.But it's a virtual knockout for Gautam Gambhir's men who are battling inconsistency and an injury to their go-to man Andre Russell.

The big-hitting Jamaican all-rounder, who has two man-of-the-match performances this season, missed the game against Gujarat Lions because of a leg injury and KKR would pray for his recovery ahead of the do-or-die clash.

Russell is KKR's highest wicket-taker this season, sixth in the most wickets' tally, with 15 scalps from 12 matches. He also boasts of a highest strike rate of 164.91 per cent among his teammates, and is their fourth leading run-scorer.

KKR needed two wins from four matches to seal a playoff berth but with back-to-back losses, the Gambhir-led side faces a knockout against Hyderabad and it would add to their misery if Russell does not recover in time.

The 2012 and 2014 IPL winning skipper is no more getting success from his spinners, a strategy that had worked well for him previously.

With time running out fast, Gambhir needs to promote his big-hitters. He is also expected to give a good start along with his settled opening partner Robin Uthappa.

KKR had defeated SRH by eight wickets in the away fixture with Gambhir leading by example with an unbeaten 90 to chase down 143 in 18.2 overs. Match starts at 4.00 pm.
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