Early in the first week of April, Daniel Vettori was out contextualising what a good performance would be for his bowlers. “If you give me eight-an-over, I’ll take it gladly” he said ahead of facing CSK at home as the definition of batting in the tournament had already started to morph. This came a week after his batters plundered 277 in Hyderabad, and carried on in the same vein in the games ahead. As the tournament progressed and SRH snared batting records, a clear narrative emerged – this is how a Pat Cummins team will play in the IPL.

There were upsides to this approach, as evidenced over the last two months. In wins, SRH had the best strike rate – 189.51. But most of their defeats were equally sapping. SRH either fly or crash and burn – there has been no middle ground or an ability to limit damages so far, which should pique the interest of Rajasthan Royals.

Sanju Samson’s side arrived in Chennai having made a mockery of the notion of ‘momentum’, proving once again why knockouts always start with a blank slate. A four-game rut was wiped out in one evening against RCB, hurling them in the path of the tournament’s pace-setters. Cummins was quick to shrug off the defeat to KKR in Q1, but it showed SRH were equally capable of being humbled as they were of inflicting that feeling on the opposition. RR, with their recent clinicality, will hope to tap into that.

When: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Rajasthan Royals, Qualifier 2, May 24, 07:30 PM IST

Where: MA Chidambaram stadium, Chennai

What to expect:It’s a question even CSK have grappled with as conditions have trumped them too in home games. Friday’s fixture will be played on pitch #7 – a fresh wicket. It brings with it unfamiliarity and an extremely short square boundary on one side.

Head to head:SRH 10 – 9 RR. The one game between these two sides this season ended in a final-ball thriller in favour of SRH.

Team Watch:

Sunrisers Hyderabad

Injury/Availability:SRH have a clean bill of health.

Tactics & Match-ups:A left-armer bowling at the stumps to Travis Head has worked twice in two games now. That and Trent Boult’s propensity to strike in the first over should give RR a jump-start, but the Australian has a good record against the pacer in the format – 52 runs in 30 balls without being dismissed. He has been dismissed thrice by left-armers but has also scored at 206.25 against them.

Probable XII: Travis Head, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Reddy, Shahbaz Ahmed, Heinrich Klaasen, Abdul Samad, Pat Cummins, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, T Natarajan [Impact Substitute: Sanvir Singh/Umran Malik]

Rajasthan Royals

Injury/Availability: “I’m not a 100% [fit] actually. There is a bug in the dressing room, lots of coughs and a lot of people are a bit unwell,” Sanju Samson revealed after RR”s win over RCB in the Eliminator. However, there are no reported absentees for the big game on Friday.

Tactics & Match-ups: RR still have two other PowerPlay bowlers capable of troubling the SRH opener. Sandeep Sharma has conceded 15 off 15, getting him out once and Avesh Khan, who cleaned him up earlier this season, has given 15 off 8 deliveries. Boult meanwhile, has had Abhishek Sharma’s number in IPL – conceding just 13 in 21 balls and getting him out once. Rahul Tripathi, who successfully got SRH a move on in the previous fixture, has struggled against Boult and Yuzvendra Chahal.

Probable XII:Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson, Riyan Parag, Dhruv Jurel, Rovman Powell, Ravichandran Ashwin, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal [Impact substitute: Shimron Hetmyer/Nandre Burger]

Did You Know:

– Abhishek Sharma has scored at 206.9 in the PowerPlay, hit spin at 235.37 and taken on left-arm pace at 221.30.

– SRH have won 1 and lost 9 in 10 games in Chepauk. RR have 2 wins in 9 at the venue. In IPL qualifiers in all the seasons, SRH have won 5 and lost 7.

– Sanju Samson has been prolific against both spin and pace this season. Against left-arm quicks, he has scored at 173.9. That strike rate goes up to 179 against spin, while his middle-overs numbers have also been incredible – 278 runs at a strike rate of 148.7.

What they said:

“What cricket and life has taught us is we will have some good and some really bad phases. But we need to have the character to bounce back. Really happy with the way we fielded, batted and bowled [against RCB in the Eliminator].” – Sanju Samson.

“We will try to put this behind quickly, good thing we will have a crack at it (second qualifier). You have those days in T20 cricket where things don’t quite work out. We weren’t where we wanted with the bat and obviously couldn’t do much with the ball.” – Pat Cummins after the big defeat to KKR in Qualifier 1.

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