Two games, two wins.
The equation for Kolkata Knight Riders to stay in the race for a play-off spot is simple, in principle, having strung along two wins in their last three games. On Saturday (May 14), they take on Sunrisers Hyderabad, the first of their obstacles and a team also vying for a play-off berth.
While the Knight Riders have won the most matches (14 out of 22) against the Hyderabad outfit, the last time the two sides met a month ago at the Brabourne stadium, SRH came out victorious chasing down 176 with 13 balls and seven wickets to spare. Nitish Rana's 54 with Andre Russell's 25-ball 49 was instrumental in rebuilding the innings after the Knight Riders lost three wickets inside the powerplay. In response, Rahul Tripathi (71) batted in conjunction with Aiden Markram (68*) to lead the Sunrisers to a win.
Both the sides excel with the bat in the middle-overs. KKR have hit the most sixes (54) between overs 7-15 with SRH placed second with a tally of 41 maximums but the Knight Riders will be glad they aced the powerplay with an opening stand of 64 in their last match against the Mumbai Indians.
Venkatesh Iyer struck a 24-ball 43 on his comeback to the side before the bowlers, ld by Pat Cummins' 3-22, comfortably defended 165 to set up a 52-run win.
As things stand, Hyderabad are coming off a four-match losing streak and need to win their remaining three games to stay in the hunt for qualification. While they are still searching for their first win in Pune this season, KKR's unbeaten seven-match streak in Pune ended against Lucknow Super Giants last week.
Saturday will be skipper Shreyas Iyer's 100th IPL match but the Knight Riders will be without the services of Cummins, who returned to Australia after an MRI scan confirmed a hip injury.
KKR: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rinku Singh, Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ramesh Kumar, Pratham Singh, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson, Baba Indrajith, Pat Cummins, Mohammad Nabi, Nitish Rana, Shivam Mavi, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer, Umesh Yadav, Harshit Rana, Tim Southee, Ashok Sharma, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy
SRH: Kane Williamson (c), Abdul Samad, Umran Malik, Washington Sundar, Nicholas Pooran, T Natarajan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Priyam Garg, Rahul Tripathi, Abhishek Sharma, Kartik Tyagi, Shreyas Gopal, J Suchith, Aiden Markram, Marco Jansen, Romario Shepherd, R Samarth, Shashank Singh, Saurabh Dubey, Vishnu Vinod, Glenn Phillips, Fazalhaq Farooqi