PUNE: It’s a literal ‘day-night’ battle between defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad – four wins in six games – and Rising Pune Supergiant, who are struggling in second-last position with two wins in five games. Logic suggests Sunrisers Hyderabad will prevail. But then, IPL’s magic is a lack of traditional cricketing logic.
With the parameters of what constitutes a good ball or a good shot changing constantly, and a lack of balance between bat and ball, predicting outcomes is foolhardy. Results tend to matter more than the process.
For a change, the Pune pitch appears far more reliable and predictable than in the past. That should help rival Australian captains Steve Smith and David Warner plan better. Hyderabad, who chose to skip practice on Friday, won’t lack the feel of home conditions when they play on Saturday – the Aghan community in the city is expected to be present in good numbers to back SRH’s leg-spinning allrounder Rashid Khan. Also, a good bunch of Indian players at their disposal means they can pick foreigners on form and not on reputation.
Former captain Shikhar Dhawan is expected to bat a bit freely as his place in India’s ODI team for the Champions Trophy is somewhat secure after KL Rahul’s injury. Their bowling is not fiery on paper. But the guile of seamer Bhuvnesh war Kumar has been backed well by medium pacers Mohamad Siraj and Siddharth Kaul. Imports Warner, Kane Williamson and Moises Henriques, with a fearless approach and madness in their eyes, are expected to deliver with the willow for Hyderabad. Plus, there is Yuvraj Singh. Pune have a game on their hands