While Hyderabad lost to Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets, Punjab were handed a 17-run defeat by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Both teams are on 10 points after 11 games and as the battle for a place in the final four hots up neither can ill-afford to take the encounter lightly.
The odds will slightly be in favour of Hyderabad who are playing a home affair after being on the road for the last two contests. They have won four out of their six games at home so far and will want to give David Warner a fitting send-off in his last outing this season.
The opener will fly back for Australia's World Cup preparations and will be keen on leaving on a high. Warner has been Hyderabad's lynchpin this season and is the current 'orange cap' holder with 611 runs in 11 matches. Without his opening partner Jonny Bairstow, who has already left for England, a lot will depend on how he goes about his innings.
Manish Pandey's move to No.3 seems to be paying off with the batsman returning solid half-centuries in the last two innings while Kane Williamson, who has been out in most games due to injury will also like to make more of a contribution with the bat.
Barring the three, Hyderabad's middle-order has been woefully out of touch with the likes of Vijay Shankar, Deepak Hooda, Shakib Al Hasan all not performing to their capabilities. Against a good bowling attack like Punjab, Williamson will want his batting unit to come out and fire on all cylinders in a bid to make the passage to the playoffs slightly easier.
Punjab too rely a lot on their top order. Openers Chris Gayle (444 runs) and KL Rahul (441 runs) have done bulk of the scoring apart from Mayank Agarwal (262), who has come good occasionally. David Miller (202 in nine games) and Sarfaraz Khan (180 in eight games) got their chances but haven't performed in most games making it extremely difficult for Ashwin. The captain though will be buoyed by Nicholas Pooran's performance in the previous game against Bangalore.
The bowling unit will be led by Mohammed Shami and Ashwin who will want to pose a few questions to the brittle Hyderabad middle-order. The Rajiv Gandhi International stadium has dished out batting beauties this season and another scoring affair will be in the offing come Monday.
The two Karnataka lads KL Rahul (71*) and Mayank Agarwal (55) did the job for their sides when these two teams met earlier in Mohali. Punjab won the encounter comfortably by six wickets.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
KL Rahul: The opener has been one of the standout performers for Punjab this season. He is the fourth-highest run scorer so far this season and has looked assured each time he has come out to bat. Having scored a half-century the last time Punjab met Hyderabad, Rahul will be keen on continuing his good run with the bat.
David Warner: The leading run-scorer so far this tournament, Warner has come a long way since his one-year ban. He has been positive and has delivered each time his team needed him. This will be his last game of the season and he will be desperate to finish his campaign with a win.
Hyderabad: The hosts might want to slot in Mohammad Nabi in place of the Shakib Al Hasan who hasn't yet lived upto his full potential this season.
Punjab: Punjab could get in Mujeeb ur Rahman in place of Hardus Viljoen
Hyderabad: David Warner, Kane Williamson(c), Manish Pandey, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Deepak Hooda, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, K Khaleel Ahmed
Punjab: Lokesh Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Nicholas Pooran(w), Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Mujeeb ur Rahman, Murugan Ashwin, Ankit Rajpoot, Mohammed Shami
First Published: April 28, 2019, 6:21 PM IST