With the elbow fight for three remaining play-off places heating up, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab can't afford another slip-up. (BCCI Images)
Mohali: With the elbow fight for three remaining play-off places heating up, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab can't afford another slip-up when they meet here at the PCA Stadium in the second match of the double-header on Saturday.
With 14 points from seven wins in 12 games, Hyderabad are pushing hard to enter the top half of the table dominated by Chennai Super Kings - who are already through to the play-offs. Punjab, on the other hand, have 10 points from 12 matches and need to win all their remaining four games to have any chance of finishing in the top four.
Both the teams are coming from embarrassing defeats and will need to pick themselves in the must-win zone. Hyderabad were handed a 77-run defeat by Chennai, while Rajasthan Royals put in a clinical display to brush aside Punjab by eight wickets at the same venue the other day.
Both the teams are suffering from inconsistent batting. Hyderabad are still waiting to see the best of their skipper Kumar Sangakkara, though the return of Shikhar Dhawan has proved to be a fillip. It will be interesting to see if Sangakkara once again drops himself to bring in Cameron White with the captain's armband. But what they will certainly need on Saturday is a collective effort from all their batsmen to successfully chase a total or put up a challenging one on the board.
The Mohali track is certain to help Dale Steyn & Co, who will enjoy the bounce it offers; however, on the contrary, Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist found it slow and dry during his team's loss against Rajasthan in the last match. Ishant Sharma had a forgettable day against Chennai, and he will like to put that behind him and continue in what has been a reasonably good season for him so far.
Darren Sammy and Thisara Perera can also bend their back to support Hyderabad's new-ball attack, with Amit Mishra - who features in the tournament's top 10 wicket-takers - leading the spin attack efficiently in this edition.
Gilchrist returned to lead Punjab against Rajasthan after a bad patch forced him to omit himself from the eleven. He made a successful return scoring 42 and is expected to be there for the toss with Sangakkara on Saturday.
David Hussey, Shaun Marsh, David Miller and Mandeep Singh are names that can make any batting line-up look dangerous. But the fact that they haven't clicked together in the same match has hurt Punjab this season.
Like Hyderabad, Punjab's bowling has served them better than their batting. Praveen Kumar, Parvinder Awana and Manpreet Gony have done satisfactorily this season. However, legspinner Piyush Chawla hasn't hit the straps so far, letting his team down. Left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma, who was included in the last match, bowled well against Rajasthan and should retain his place.
Kings XI Punjab: 1 Mandeep Singh, 2 Adam Gilchrist (capt/wk), 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 David Miller, 5 David Hussey, 6 R Sathish, 7 Manpreet Gony, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Bipul Sharma, 10 Praveen Kumar, 11 Parvinder Awana
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt), 4 Hanuma Vihari, 5 Darren Sammy, 6 Thisara Perera, 7 Karan Sharma, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Anand Rajan, 10 Dale Steyn, 11 Ishant Sharma