The Rajasthan Royals will make their long-awaited return to the competition after serving a two year suspension on the sidelines, hosting them will be the Sunrisers Hyderabad who aren’t short on controversy themselves.
In what can only be described as a cricketing debacle, there’s a sour-point to this game linking two of Australia’s most controversial players to these IPL clubs. That’s right, sacked Australian captain Steve Smith who was set to take the field for Rajasthan and his vice-captain David Warner who was gearing up for a massive tournament for Hyderabad had their contracts torn up after the ball tampering saga. Both individuals are huge losses to their respective sides, but the show must go on.
In a similar position to the Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan are seeking redemption but more importantly, trying to earn back the respect of their supporters after that illegal match-fixing scandal in 2015. They’ll be without Steve Smith who was set to return after the Royals suspension & was coming of a brilliant 2017 campaign for the Supergiant’s where he racked up 472 runs. Ajinkya Rahane will captain the Royals in 2018 as he sets himself for a hopefully-successful tournament of his own with the bat, he’ll be leading the way for Rajasthan at the top of the order. Talented top order batsman Rahul Tripathi will be a player to keep your eye on in 2018, he played a pivotal role in the Supergiant’s side throughout the tournament in IPL 10, but like all opening batsmen encountered some difficult times. They aren’t an overly-strong team on paper, but they’ve managed to add two big X factors to the squad which should spice things up when the tough gets going. Future Aussie opener D’Arcy Short and fiery-English all-rounder Ben Stokes should change the course of a game this year more than a few times given their freakish playing nature in this format. Wicketkeeper Sanju Samson is also a great recruit after he lit up the IPL stage on three occasions for Delhi last year, including a maiden-IPL ton against Pune. In the bowling department, West Indian & English quick Jofra Archer is easily the most notable of the lot. He may not run in like other fast bowlers, but he generates a lot of pace and bounce when he hits the crease so look out! Local medium-pacer Jaydev Unadkat had a breakout year with the ball in IPL 10 for Pune, finishing runner-up in the leading wicket takers of the tournament with 24 to his name, so he’s another to look out for.
Hyderabad probably just have the edge over their opposition in terms of talent & proven performers in their squad, but that doesn’t exactly guarantee them a win, it does increase their chances of success though. Australian opening batsman David Warner has been a dominant figure at the top of the Sunrisers order for a number of years now, so he’ll be sorely-missed in terms of his scoring output. That opens the door for current Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson who is yet to dominate the IPL despite being one of the best modern day batsmen in the world. Who knows, with Warner out this could be Williamson’s chance to shine in a key players absence and make a name for himself in this franchise. The 27-year-old Kiwi will receive plenty of support from the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Alex Hales and Yusuf Pathan throughout Hyderabad’s batting order, all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and Carlos Brathwaite will also come in handy if wickets start tumbling. Dhawan will be a vital contributor in Warner’s absence, the Indian opener finished third in the IPL’s leading run scorers in 2017 with 479 at a healthy average, they’ll need more of the same from the 32-year-old in IPL 11. We all know what Yusuf Pathan brings to the table, he’s not going to chip singles around that’s for sure, so his aggressive striking should be used as a weapon mid-way or late in the innings if Hyderabad are to get the best out of him. It’s no secret that strike-seam bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the best bowler in last season’s IPL, claiming a competition-high of 26 wickets from his 14 matches. Afghani leg-spinner Rashid Khan should once again prove difficult for opposition batsmen to handle, he impressed in his debut IPL season claiming 17 wickets for Hyderabad. Former Kings XI seam bowler Sandeep Sharma could also be a prize recruit for them, he was just as impressive in the 2017 competition equalling Rashid’s 17 wickets.
Top 5 fantasy picks | Sunrisers Hyderabad | 4th match | Hyderabad
- Rashid Khan
- Shikhar Dhawan
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar
- Manish Pandey
- Kane Williamson
Wildcard pick – Yusuf Pathan
Top 5 fantasy picks | Rajasthan Royals | 4th match | Hyderabad
- Sanju Samson
- Jaydev Unadkat
- Ajinkya Rahane
- D’Arcy Short
- Ben Stokes
Wildcard pick – Krishnappa Gowtham
Sunrisers Hyderabad (possible) – 1. Shikhar Dhawan 2. Alex Hales 3. Kane Williamson © 4. Manish Pandey 5. Yusuf Pathan 6. Shakib Al Hasan 7. Deepak Hooda 8. Wriddhiman Saha (wk) 9. Rashid Khan 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 11. Sandeep Sharma.
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane © 2. D’Arcy Short 3. Rahul Tripathi 4. Sanju Samson 5. Heinrich Klaasen/Jos Buttler 6. Ben Stokes 7. Stuart Binny 8. Krishnappa Gowtham 9. Jofra Archer 10. Ankit Sharma 11. Jaydev Unadkat.