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A battle between KXIP batting and SRH bowling

Mohali, April 18: Kings XI Punjab’s batting will be up against the effective bowling of Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game between two in-form teams here on Thursday.
While Punjab have registered two wins in three matches so far, Hyderabad have won three games in a row, as both the teams registered crucial wins at the beginning of the tournament.
The match at the Punjab Cricket Stadium pits a home side that has a lot of batting firepower against a Hyderabad side that is very balanced and their bowling line-up one of the best in the tournament.
Punjab’s top-order batsmen Lokesh Rahul, Karun Nair — both from Karnataka — have delivered in the first three matches.
One thing that will please the northern outfit is the return to form of West Indian marauder Chris Gayle, who blasted 63 off 33 deliveries during their four-run win over Chennai Super Kings in their last match.
However, Punjab will want another veteran, Yuvraj Singh, and Mayank Aggarwal to also be among the runs as the home batsmen will require to be on top of their game against the Hyderabad bowlers. SRH’s strength lies in their bowling which has a lot of variety. They have restricted their opponents in three matches within the 150-run mark.
Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan, who bowled 18 dot balls against Mumbai Indians, is a prime example. Besides Rashid, the likes of Billy Stanlake, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shakib Al Hasan, Sandeep Sharma and Siddharth Kaul provide a lot of options.  Bhuvneshwar did not play against MI due to back pain but came back strongly to pick up three wickets for 26 runs against KKR, which must have relieved the Kane Williamson-led side.
Also, one cannot underestimate SRH’s batting might. Hyderabad’s all three wins have come while chasing.
Shikhar Dhawan, with 130 runs so far, has continued his superb form in the limited-overs cricket.
With two crucial knocks of 50 and 36, Williamson has sent a message that the pressure of captaincy even in T20 cricket doesn’t overpower him. Williamson has been a class act for New Zealand and continues to be so here, ensuring that the side doesn’t miss the leadership shown by former captain David Warner.
Hyderabad may continue to use wicket-keeper Wriddhiman Saha as a top-order batsman even if he has not cashed in on the opportunities so far.
Apart from him, the likes of Shakib, Manish Pandey are proven performers and will look to showcase their talent again, especially against Punjab bowlers who have proved to be expensive, barring young Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
Captain Ravichandran Ashwin will hope fellow bowlers like Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma and Barinder Sran restrict the Hyderabad line-up.
The squads:
SRH: Kane Williamson (Captain), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Rashid Khan Arman, Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wicket-keeper), Sandeep Sharma, Shakib Al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Mohammad Nabi Eisakhil, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Billy Stanlake, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Syed Khaleel Ahmed, Shreevats Goswami, Basil Thampi, T. Natarajan, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Ricky Bhui, Sachin Baby, Tanmay Agarwal.
KXIP: Ravichandran Ashwin (Captain), Axar Patel, Yuvraj Singh, Karun Nair, Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, David Miller, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Agarwal, Ankit Rajpoot, Manoj Tiwary, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb Zadran, Barinder Sran, Andrew Tye, Akshdeep Nath, Ben Dwarshuis, Pardeep Sahu, Mayank Dagar, Manzoor Dar. (IANS)

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Ankur Kalita