Sunrisers Hyderabad will be hosting Rajasthan Royals at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Friday. Both teams will be looking to register their first win of the season. Sunrisers Hyderabad lost their previous encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders last Sunday by six wickets while Rajasthan Royals went down to Kings XI Punjab by 14 runs in on Monday. Therefore, the two former Champions will be eager to add two points in their tally and bring their campaign back on track.
There are certain factors which will make this clash an interesting one.
1. Can Jos Buttler overcome the 'Mankading' saga?: Rajasthan opening batsman Jos Buttler was anchoring the Royals run chase with a quickfire 43-ball 69 at a strike rate of 160.47 which included 10 fours and two sixes before he was dismissed in a bizarre manner. He had walked down the wicket during the 13th over and Punjab skipper Ashwin who was about to bowl saw this and dislodged the stumps instantly before appealing for a run out. The decision was made against Buttler and his innings was cut short. He was disappointed to such an extent that he did not shake hands with the Punjab skipper after the match. Nonetheless, Buttler has been Rajasthan's premier batsman ever since he was bought by the franchise last season. He amassed 548 runs in 13 matches which included five half-centuries at a strike rate of 155.24.
2. Steve Smith v/s David Warner: This is the clash that all the Cricket fans wil be looking forward to with great anticipation. Two star Australian batsmen will be in action against each other. Both Smith and Warner could not feature in last year's IPL as the duo were handed a 12 month ban due to their involvement n the infamous ball-tampering scandal in South Africa . Warner announced his comeback in style by smashing a 53-ball 85 against Kolkata Knight Riders at a strike rate of 160.38 and took his team to a competitive score of 181/3. However, it did not prove to enough as KKR achieved the target in the penultimate over. Smith on the other hand, could not make an impression with the bat in the last game against Kings XI Punjab. He scored a 16-ball 20 in Rajasthan's chase of 185 before a brilliant catch in the deep ended his stay in the middle.
3. Head-to-head records: Sunrisers Hyderabad have a slight advantage over Rajasthan Royals in the head-to-head records: In the nine matches played between both sides SRH have won five matches while RR have won on four occasions. Hyderabad also have a home advantage with a 2-1 victory margin. Last season, SRH had won both their home and away fixtures against the Royals.
4. Kane Williamson Returns: The SRH fans will be rejoicing at Kane Williamson's return in Friday's clash. Williamson could not play the opening match as he was rested due to a shoulder injury that he had suffered while fielding in the Test series against Bangladesh. The Kiwi captain had an outstanding season last year as he had led the Hyderabad franchise to the final.
5. The 'Rashid Khan' factor: One cannot take Rashid Khan out of action as he has been one of SRH's lethal weapon since the last two seasons. He has bamboozled big names like MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Jos Buttler with his googlies and he will be looking o exploit the home conditions.