After a pair of early losses in the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL), it seemed like the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) would be rooted to the bottom of the points table, just like they were throughout last year. But the Orange Army have dug deep to produce two commanding performances, first against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and then against the Gujarat Titans (GT), to put up four points and establish themselves as playoff contenders.
When SRH lock horns with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, April 15, they will have the chance to pull level with Shreyas Iyer and Co. on points. KKR have had a mixed start to their season with three wins from five games. Although they are comfortably placed in second spot right now, that could change in the span of a game or two in an intensely competitive league such as the IPL.
SRH will be without Washington Sundar, who split a webbing on his bowling hand in the previous game. In the absence of their sole specialist spinner, Kane Williamson and Co. will need to rethink their team combination, which hasn’t really been tested in IPL 2022 thus far. Top-order contributions and wickets from key pacers have ensured SRH a decent amount of stability, something that will be challenged by an unpredictable KKR side.
Meanwhile, Kolkata will need to address their top-order and death-bowling concerns if they are to build on their early momentum in IPL 2022. Pat Cummins, despite the odd whirlwind innings with the bat against the Mumbai Indians MI), has leaked runs by the handful. Ajinkya Rahane and Venkatesh Iyer, meanwhile, have formed one of the most uninspiring opening combinations of the season.
IPL 2022 Match Prediction: SRH vs KKR
Andre Russell’s role in the KKR side is one of the biggest mysteries of the season. The Jamaican all-rounder has been used sparingly by captain Shreyas on the bowling front, presumably due to the variety of injury concerns he always seems to have. But he remains their best option at the death. Without Russell bowling a few overs regularly, KKR will have to play an extra pacer, something that not only sacrifices their batting depth but also leaves them vulnerable to having too many options.
Rahane is likely to face the ax soon, and one between Sam Billings and Aaron Finch could be tasked with opening the batting alongside Venkatesh Iyer. If Finch features in the playing XI, the impressive Sheldon Jackson could be back at the expense of Billings. KKR have other radical options to open alongside Venkatesh such as Nitish Rana and Sunil Narine, but they’re unlikely to deviate from their first-choice gameplans so early in the season.
SRH, on the other hand, have stuck to their guns. Amid calls to shuffle their opening combination of Abhishek Sharma and Kane Williamson, the 2016 IPL champions retained faith in their ideas and reaped the rewards, with the duo picking up a pair of Player of the Match awards. However, SRH have been too watchful in the powerplay, something that could come back to bite them if they lose an early wicket or two.
SRH’s middle order has delivered in IPL 2022, with Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram and Nicholas Pooran seeming to be in good nick. But there’s little batting might after No. 5, especially without Sundar and Romario Shepherd. Bringing back Abdul Samad and churning out four overs from part-timers might be SRH’s best bet to make up for Sundar’s absence.
Powerplay bowling is something KKR have excelled at this season, with Umesh Yadav leading the charge. The two-time champions could have the resources needed to make early inroads into the SRH batting lineup, and while a close contest that could go either way is on the cards, KKR start as the favorites.
Prediction: KKR to win Match 25 of IPL 2022