The race for the IPL playoffs has been busted wide open, apart from the top three teams in the competition it’s anyone’s guess who will make the final cut. All currently vying for that fourth spot in the standings, Virat Kohli’s RCB have come from nowhere to stay in contention for the playoffs and now find themselves on equal points with Rajasthan and Kolkata. Not even the Sunrisers are safe, another loss tomorrow could see their season self-destruct before their very eyes.
For the first time this season, the Rajasthan Royals were sitting at the bottom of the points table which came as quite a shock to many. They quickly rectified that as they handed the Kolkata Knight Riders their sixth-consecutive loss of the tournament at the Eden Gardens yesterday. A handful of teams in this season’s competition have had mediocre tournaments, and the Royals are definitely one of them. Like the Royal Challengers and Knight Riders, Rajasthan is a team with plenty of potential, yet somehow find themselves battling to stay alive late in the tournament. Hopefully that inspirational-victory in Kolkata the other night has given them some belief, Ajinkya Rahane’s return to form and the X factor Riyan Parag has brought to the side has been a massive bonus in recent times. Rajasthan will want to get the most out of Steve Smith before he departs as well, the skipper could only muster up 2 runs after producing back-to-back fifties. Sanju Samson could also be a huge weapon at the top of the order, his lapse in concentration is what’s limiting him at the moment.
The Royals may have just discovered where they’ve been going wrong for the tournament, and the speed of Varun Aaron certainly showed that at the Eden Gardens. The Indian speedsters phenomenal spell of 2/20 from his four overs including a wicket-maiden to start proceedings was the ideal outcome for Rajasthan. The bad news is that Aaron appeared to injure himself nearing the end of his spell, he looked absolutely dejected walking off the field. Hopefully it was just a bad cramp or a minor strain, because it looks as if Aaron is the missing ingredient the Royals have been looking for. Given a lack of impact from Dhawal Kulkarni and Jaydev Unadkat with the ball this season, it’s left the likes of Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal a lot of work to do. Windies seamer Oshane Thomas should hold his spot after a solid first outing in his IPL debut, however it’s hard to see Unadkat holding his spot after conceding 40+ runs for the fifth time this season.
I win tomorrow night would take an enormous amount of pressure of Hyderabad, but they come up against an inspired-Rajasthan Royals who are on a mission themselves. It’s the battle of the Australian superstars, Warner vs Smith in what should be an enthralling contest between the pair. NOBODY has been able to match David Warner’s dominance with the willow in IPL 12, 574 runs averaging 71.75 boasts an incredible individual display of brilliance and consistency, yet his team still isn’t guaranteed a spot in the playoffs?! With Jonny Bairstow gone, the dream-duo’s separation could prove costly. Hyderabad are expected to make a number of changes ahead of tomorrow’s game, one of them is the return of skipper Kane Williamson who missed SRH’s last game due to personal reasons. It will be interesting to see who comes in for Jonny Bairstow, Martin Guptill is in the side as a replacement for David Warner which most-likely sees Mohammad Nabi return to the XI.
After being in and out of the side all season, Manish Pandey staked his claim to be in the Sunrisers best XI come playoffs time with a brutalizing 83 not out against the Chennai Super Kings in his return. With the middle order finally starting to contribute runs, Warner might be able to somehow up his game even further! It was one of the first times that this Sunrisers bowling unit has finished second-best, Shane Watson single-handedly destroyed them. Hyderabad wouldn’t be fazed at all, the likes of Khaleel Ahmed, Rashid Khan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have all been in great touch of recent. If Mohammad Nabi was to return to the side, he’d add an extra genuine wicket-taking option with his right-arm offbreaks. Wriddhiman Saha is expected to come into the side to replace Bairstow behind the stumps, which could force Kane Williamson up the order if they elect to go in with the extra all-rounder.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Rajasthan Royals
- Ajinkya Rahane
- Sanju Samson
- Shreyas Gopal
- Steve Smith
Wildcard pick – Oshane Thomas
Top 4 fantasy picks – Sunrisers Hyderabad
- David Warner
- Khaleel Ahmed
- Manish Pandey
- Rashid Khan
Wildcard pick – Mohammad Nabi
Rajasthan Royals (possible) – 1. Ajinkya Rahane 2. Sanju Samson (wk) 3. Steve Smith © 4. Liam Livingstone/Ashton Turner 5. Riyan Parag 6. Stuart Binny/Rahul Tripathi/Prashant Chopra 7. Shreyas Gopal 8. Shubham Ranjane/Jaydev Unadkat 9. Ish Sodhi 10. Varun Aaron/Dhawal Kulkarni 11. Oshane Thomas.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (possible) – 1. David Warner 2. Kane Williamson © 3. Manish Pandey 4. Vijay Shankar 5. Shakib Al Hasan/Mohammad Nabi 6. Yusuf Pathan/Deepak Hooda 7. Rashid Khan 8. Wriddhiman Saha (wk) 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar 10. Khaleel Ahmed 11. Sandeep Sharma/Siddarth Kaul.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.