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Weary Sunrisers seek to end KKR’s home dominance

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Big Picture

Forty-eight hours. After barely surviving a rollercoaster against the defending champions Mumbai Indians, that is the time Sunrisers Hyderabad have to recuperate and be back in full swing. It’s another reminder of how punishing the IPL can be, and the challenges teams face in staying fresh through two whole months in the peak of the Indian summer. Moreover, Sunrisers will have to switch cities, as they step out of home into the bastion that is Eden Gardens.

With 41 victories, Kolkata Knight Riders are the third-most successful home team in IPL history. That trend extended with a dominant win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their opening game. Knight Riders are among the most well-balanced teams. Their batting order is full of firepower, and they bat very deep. It came to the fore against Chennai Super Kings, when Andre Russell shellacked an unbeaten 88 off 36 balls to power them to 202, after they were 89 for 5 at the halfway stage.

Knight Riders’ only concern at the moment is with the domestic fast bowler’s slot. Vinay Kumar, who is their senior-most player in that department, has fallen flat, having gone at 2.82 runs per ball in the two games so far. After their failure to defend 202 against Chennai, the bowling coach Heath Streak called for better execution from the players. And while Streak placed emphasis on a change in approach over wholesale changes to the XI, Knight Riders may consider testing the Under-19 duo of Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti in place of Vinay.

Like Knight Riders, Sunrisers have a wonderfully-balanced side. Shikhar Dhawan has done his best to make up for the absence of David Warner with a pair of belligerent knocks. Sunrisers’ middle order has never looked stronger, after the acquisitions of Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan. And Shakib Al Hasan has added teeth to an already potent bowling attack. However, Sunrisers lack a quick striker to complement Dhawan at the top. T20 cricket has often shown us that having one partner buckle down while the other tees off isn’t necessarily a winning strategy. And assuming that Kane Williamson will be largely responsible for holding his end up to build the innings, Sunrisers cannot afford to have two slow scorers in their top three.

In the news

Mitchell Johnson was rested from Knight Riders’ match against Chennai Super Kings due to a “slight niggle”, but Streak confirmed that the left-arm pacer had recovered, and was hopeful of his return. Streak also said that Lynn’s shoulder problem shouldn’t be a concern. On the eve of the match, captain Dinesh Karthik confirmed the same but also said that team decisions would be made on the morning of the game.

Bhuvneshwar sat out the Mumbai game due to a sore back. While he is their spearhead, Sunrisers wouldn’t be sweating too much in case Bhuvneshwar doesn’t recover, seeing as Sandeep Sharma, his replacement, fared well with returns of 2 for 25 in four overs.

The likely XIs

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt, wk), 6 Rinku Singh/Shubman Gill, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Shivam Mavi/Kamlesh Nagarkoti

Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Deepak Hooda, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Siddarth Kaul, 10 Sandeep Sharma/Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Billy Stanlake

Stats that matter

  • Of the 48 balls that Siddarth Kaul has bowled this season, batsmen haven’t been in control of their shots against 25 of them. The numbers are identical for Kaul’s teammate Rashid Khan.

  • Kaul has taken a particular liking to the short delivery. He has bowled 11 of them so far – the second-most this season – and to great effect, giving away just nine runs, including a solitary boundary, and picking up a wicket.

  • Sunrisers have never beaten Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens. Of the five matches these two sides have played here, the home team has won all of them.

  • Among players with at least 600 career IPL runs, Andre Russell’s Smart Strike Rate of 220.40 is, by far, the best. No other player even touches the 200-mark. Glenn Maxwell is a distant second, with 1245 runs at a Smart Strike Rate of 194.79.

  • Contrary to the norm this season, four of the last five meetings between these two sides have been won by the team batting first.

  • Robin Uthappa has an excellent record against Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the IPL. Off the 53 balls he has faced from the bowler, Uthappa has scored 65 runs, and is yet to be dismissed.

Strategy punt

Use your fast bowlers against Narine. Royal Challengers did the mistake of bowling Yuzvendra Chahal and Washington Sundar at Narine upfront, and he sunk them with a 17-ball half-century. Chennai, too, turned to Harbhajan Singh for the second over with Narine at the crease. While the move paid off for them, the contrast is telling. Since the 2015 IPL, Narine has averaged 29.7 and struck at 240.5 while being dismissed thrice in nine innings against spin. Against pace, he averages 18.6, while the strike-rate drops to 156.9, and he has got out to them 11 times in 19 innings.

Fantasy picks

Batsmen at the top are most likely to score the big runs, which makes Chris Lynn an automatic lock. Even if he does end up being dismissed for a low score, Lynn is unlikely to scratch around, which will make the loss of points minimal. Likewise, Narine would make a safe pick, given his batting position and utility with the ball. Since the previous season, Narine has averaged 19.06 with the bat and struck at 186.92; with the ball, he has conceded just 6.85 runs an over: as fantasy as it gets.

Quotes

“Yes, we’ve got to be careful. He’s not the first bowler, and he won’t be the last bowler who won’t defend 17-20. We’ve seen (Dwayne) Bravo – what he can do. We’ve seen Andre (Russell) hit quite a few overs for those sort of numbers, like 20-plus. It’s tough when you’re defending the last one, but we did the same thing: hit their bowlers for 20-plus.”
Knight Riders bowling coach Heath Streak impels caution in criticism of Vinay Kumar



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IPL 2020 full coverage – Interviews, quizzes, analyses and more

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Here’s the best of ESPNcricinfo’s content from the IPL 2020 season. For the full schedule and team-by-team guide, click here.

Team previews

Kolkata Knight Riders: Explosive batting KKR’s biggest strength in pursuit of third IPL title

Rajasthan Royals: Combination questions for Rajasthan Royals with Ben Stokes doubtful

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Underachievers RCB look to new faces to fix old problems

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Inexperienced middle order the weak link for Sunrisers Hyderabad

Kings XI Punjab: Will leaving out Chris Gayle give Kings XI Punjab better balance?

Delhi Capitals: Capitals start with all bases covered – except big hits down the order

Features and analysis

Wristspinners are in, but don’t write offspin off just yet
Fingerspinners are increasingly making their presence felt in the powerplay in IPL matches, Andrew Fidel Fernando writes

Here’s an ideal starting XI for each 2020 IPL team
Former India, KKR and Rajasthan Royals batsman Aakash Chopra runs his eye over the IPL squads, picking ideal starting XIs for each team

How has the Chennai Super Kings Dad’s Army fared since the last IPL?
CSK have relied on players in their mid-30s and made it to consecutive finals. But with 16 months gone since the last IPL, can their experienced players still deliver?

Smart Stats: Why David Warner topped Virat Kohli in IPL 2016
The absolute values of Kohli’s runs in 2016 are immense, but what about the actual value and impact on matches? Did another player score fewer runs or take fewer wickets, but do so in more high-pressure and demanding situations?

The IPL can actually be good practice for the Australia-India series
Ian Chappell’s column

How do the 2020 IPL captains stack up?
We take a look at seven of the eight captains in this year’s IPL and their styles

Come to Think of it: Do you really want Virat Kohli in your T20 XI?
Why Kohli might not be the ideal T20 top-order batsman

Dream Team: One out of Kohli, Dhoni and Bumrah doesn’t make it to our best current IPL XI
Our panelists pick the best current IPL XI

How the Royal Challengers Bangalore have miscalculated over the years
As RCB look to arrest their slump over the last three years, they have assembled a team that looks more balanced than the one from last season. Here’s a look at some miscalculations they have made over the years

Nagarkoti, Ahmed, Bishnoi head line-up of exciting uncapped Indian bowlers
A list of uncapped Indian bowlers is a very exciting one, with proven campaigners at the domestic level and a smattering of Under-19 stars from the recent past

Padikkal, Gaikwad in power-packed band of uncapped Indian batsmen
A list of uncapped Indian batsmen features a couple of players who have been part of, and impressed in, the IPL already, and some who will want to make their maiden forays memorable

Who will fill in for Malinga, Raina and Harbhajan in IPL?
The trio, who are such huge IPL icons, have pulled out of the tournament. ESPNcricinfo looks at how their absence could impact their franchises

Who is the only bowler to bowl two Super Overs in the IPL and win both games?
Stats analysis: And what’s the fewest runs conceded in an IPL Super Over?

Young ‘uns and big guns
Tymal Mills picks an all-time T20 XI from among the cricketers he played alongside

Interviews

Andrew McDonald: IPL 2020 is going to be all about managing the individual Rajasthan Royals’ head coach discusses the challenges of franchise cricket in the Covid-19 era and the advantage of having multiple World Cup winners in the Royals squad

David Miller: ‘I’m in awe of Dhoni’s chases. I want to finish games like he does’
Miller on his role as a finisher, his learnings from watching MS Dhoni and playing alongside big names in the Royals side this IPL

From lockdown to IPL: ‘Can’t expect 100% intensity,’ say premier quicks and coaches With IPL 2020 set to begin on September 19, what will be the focus when they go out to train? We spoke to L Balaji, Irfan Pathan, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jaydev Unadkat and Sandeep Warrier to get an idea

KL Rahul: ‘Aggression for us will be to adapt, not go kaboom from ball one’ Rahul, who will make his debut as IPL captaincy for Kings XI, talks about his captaincy role model, working with team director and head coach Anil Kumble, and why Chris Gayle running singles might not always be a good sign.

IPL MVPs
We look at the six most impactful players in the history of the IPL using ESPNcricinfo’s Smart Stats tool (min qualification 60 matches)
Rank 1: Andre Russell
Rank: 2: Chris Gayle
Rank: 3: Shane Watson
Rank: 4: Sunil Narine
Rank: 5: AB de Villiers
Rank 6: David Warner

Quizzes

Which Pakistan player played for RCB in the 2008 IPL?

Who holds the record for the highest individual score for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL?

Videos

Vijay Shankar: ‘Looking forward to facing CSK’ The allrounder talks about Sunrisers’ strengths and his personal goals for IPL 2020

Andrew McDonald: Great confidence having Stokes, Archer and Buttler in Rajasthan Royals Rajasthan Royals head coach Andrew McDonald hopes the team can learn from the 2019 ODI World Cup winners

Shreyas Iyer: ‘I enjoy batting against Rashid Khan’ The Delhi Capitals captain on what he’s looking forward to in IPL 2020

Varun Aaron: ‘Want to take 16-plus wickets in IPL 2020’ Rajasthan Royals quick on what he’s looking forward to this season

Dwayne Bravo: I’ve got a new slower ball The 500-wicket man looks ahead to IPL 2020

KKR has been one of the top teams since 2012 – Venky Mysore “A lot of stars have to align to win championships,” KKR CEO says

Mute me: Will CSK make the playoffs this year? Watch Raunak Kapoor, Dustin Silgardo, Sreshth Shah and Karthik Iyer take on each other about all things IPL

Dwayne Bravo: ‘Feels like I’m turning 27’ Dwayne Bravo talks about staying fit and why he doesn’t care about being named the MVP in the IPL



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19 – Bangladesh batsman Saif Hassan returns positive again in second test

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Bangladesh batsman Saif Hassan has returned positive in his second Covid test which was taken exactly seven days after he first tested positive.

BCB haven’t added Hassan’s name in their list of 27 cricketers considered for the preliminary squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka. If he recovers in time, Hassan could still make the squad as he has played in Bangladesh’s last two Tests earlier this year.

Saif’s domestic and Bangladesh A form in the last two years got him a place in the Bangladesh Test squad against India last year but he didn’t make the playing XI that series. He made his debut against Pakistan in Rawalpindi earlier this year and played the one-off Test against Zimbabwe in February as well.

However, disagreements over Covid-19 protocols have continue to dog Bangladesh’s series in Sri Lanka, which is scheduled to begin in late October. Last week, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had informed the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) that the Bangladesh players would need to be in quarantine for one week upon landing in the island, before being able to train.



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England news – ECB announce 62 job cuts as Covid realities hit home

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The ECB has announced a major raft of redundancies as it grapples with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, it was announced that the ECB are to cut their workforce budget by 20 percent – a sum which equates to the removal of 62 roles from the organisation – with most of those involved informed of the plans on Monday afternoon. In addition, other staff will see their roles become part-time or seasonal.

While one or two areas in the business have been ring-fenced – notably safeguarding positions – the cuts will impact all departments.

Although news of the redundancies was expected – the new ECB Chair, Ian Watmore, had described them as “inevitable” a fortnight ago – the extent of them is more of a surprise and reflects the growing realisation that 2021 may be no easier than 2020.

While some of the cuts will come from a decision not to fill vacant positions, the vast majority amount to redundancies. Insiders say there were tears in the ECB offices at Lord’s as the decisions were communicated to staff.

The pay cuts which were introduced for ECB executives in April – 20 percent for most; 25 percent for the chief executive, Tom Harrison – have also been extended, although only until the end of October at this stage.

There is no further news at this stage about any decision to move the ECB’s base away from Lord’s. Given the reduced ECB headcount, it would seem the requirement for office space is likely to be reduced though the actual savings, in purely financial terms, are not thought to be significant.

In time, however, it still seems likely the ECB will seek a headquarters away from St John’s Wood; an area with an exclusive reputation that may not be appropriate for a national governing body which is intent on proving its accessibility to all.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has left cricket facing its most significant challenge of the modern era,” Tom Harrison, the ECB’s CEO, said. “The game has already lost more than £100m, and the financial impact is likely to be £200m if there is further disruption next year, which many are expecting.

“When the crisis first hit, the ECB put in place a range of measures to save money in the short term including furloughing staff and significant pay reductions across the organisation, in addition to a recruitment freeze. It is now an irrefutable fact however, that the impact of this pandemic is significant and will be long-lasting. There is also deep uncertainty about the future, and it is vital we take more steps now to ensure the future financial sustainability of cricket in England and Wales.

“We must reduce the cost base across the game – and that requires the ECB to lead the way by reducing its own cost base.

“Given this new reality, if we are to safeguard cricket’s long-term future and still deliver on the growth ambitions of our Inspiring Generations strategy, it is clear the ECB will need to become a leaner and more agile organisation.

“Seven months ago, sharing a message of this nature was unthinkable. The position we had created to come together as a game and grow cricket on the back of a remarkable year in 2019 was truly game-changing. Our ambition and energy are unchanged, but how we get there now needs to look significantly different to what we originally planned for.”



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