Match Preview – Sunrisers vs Royals, Indian Premier League 2022, 5th Match

Match Preview - Sunrisers vs Royals, Indian Premier League 2022, 5th Match
Preview

Royals’ left-handers versus Washington Sundar’s offspin could be an interesting subplot

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And then there were two. By the time Sunrisers Hyderabad and Rajasthan Royals take the field on Tuesday, all other sides would have had a taste of IPL 2022.

Sunrisers will be without Rashid Khan for the first time since 2017, but unlike a batter, a bowler can have an impact for only 20% of a innings, which might give them some respite. If fit, Washington Sundar could do a holding role with the new ball or after the powerplay and there’s the seam trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan and Umran Malik who offer 12 very different kind of overs. Bhuvneshwar will search for swing at the top, Natarajan will aim for the yorkers at the death, and Malik will look to beat batters with his raw pace and trouble them with his short ball. Marco Jansen, the tall, left-arm seamer, could be a potent new-ball partner for Bhuvneshwar. The other option for that final overseas slot could be the destructive West Indies allrounder Romario Shepherd.

For the last few seasons, Sunrisers opted to load up on a top-heavy batting line-up – often with two heavyweight overseas batters at the top, but this time they’re expected to open with domestic batters Rahul Tripathi and Abhishek Sharma. Then there’s Kane Williamson as a top-drawer anchor, albeit coming off a long-term injury, Aiden Markram who can bat anywhere in the top five, and Nicholas Pooran who is expected to bring in the fireworks. Abdul Samad, Sundar and possibly Shepherd close out the batting, and on paper, this is a side with plenty of potential even though the bench doesn’t inspire too much confidence.

Royals have plenty of positives going into the competition apart perhaps from their death-bowling options. Trent Boult can do a job with the older ball, but he is most potent while swinging the new one into the right-hander. Prasidh Krishna will likely partner Boult in the powerplay, and if they can successfully build early pressure, R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal could capitalise on it to strangle the opposition in the middle overs. How they choose to approach the death overs could be the deciding factor in whether James Neesham plays as the allrounder or Nathan Coulter-Nile.

As far as the top order is concerned, Royals have as good a unit as a team can hope for after an auction. They retained Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler and Sanju Samson, and now have Devdutt Padikkal set to bat at No. 3. Rassie van der Dussen, who has enjoyed a purple patch for South Africa in the last nine months or so, and Shimron Hetmyer, who is especially brutal against spin, are probably vying for one spot in the middle, though the decision for the first game has been taken out of Royals’ hands with the former unavailable for Tuesday’s game. With Samson likely to bat at No. 4, Royals have a potentially devastating top and middle order. Nos. 6 and 7 don’t look nearly as imposing, and a lot of hope resides in Riyan Parag, whom the franchise bought back after a dismal 2021 season.

In summation, these are two sides that look vastly different from past seasons – each with obvious strengths and obvious weak spots. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2021, so they will be hungry to begin 2022 on the right note. It will also be the first match in Pune, and other teams will keep a keen eye on the action at the MCA Stadium.

Possible XI

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Jos Buttler, 3 Devdutt Padikkal, 4 Sanju Samson (capt, wk), 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 James Neesham/Nathan Coulter-Nile, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Prasidh Krishna

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Rahul Tripathi, 2 Abhishek Sharma, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 5 Aiden Markram, 6 Abdul Samad, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Marco Jansen/Romario Shepherd, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 T Natarajan, 11 Umran Malik

Strategy punt

Royals’ signing of Padikkal was an intriguing one, since two of their retained players were openers. Assuming Jaiswal and Buttler open, Royals might have an interesting call to make over who bats at No. 3, depending on which opener is dismissed first and when. If there’s an early wicket, Padikkal is a natural No. 3, given that he is best suited to batting in the powerplay, but if there’s a long opening stand, he might not necessarily be the best fit, with his strike rate outside the powerplay (120.89) significantly worse than that of Samson (156.67) since IPL 2019. If Buttler is dismissed first, Royals might look to push Samson to No. 3 anyway to maintain the right-left combination; in this particular game, they may not want two left-handers in the crease in Padikkal and Jaiswal, given the threat of Washington Sundar’s offspin.

Stats that matter

  • Only five batters in the IPL have averaged 40-plus and scored at a strike-rate of 140-plus since 2020. Two of them are Sanju Samson (54.50, 145.33) and Jos Buttler (43.00, 159.25).
  • Royals have both the most successful IPL seamer and spinner in the powerplay. Since IPL 2020, no seamer has taken more powerplay wickets than Boult (21) and no spinner has taken more wickets in the phase than Ashwin (eight).
  • With Sunrisers retaining a similar fast-bowling unit to 2021, how Padikkal does against them will be interesting. In five innings against Sunrisers, Padikkal has scored at a strike-rate of only 94.21, the third-worst strike-rate for any batter against one IPL team (minimum 100 runs scored).

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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