IPL 2023: High-flying Kolkata faces Hyderabad, Looka hat-trick of wins
IPL 2023: High-flying Kolkata faces Hyderabad, Looka hat-trick of wins

KOLKATA: After Rinku Singh's incredible performance, Kolkata Knight Riders will be aiming for a hat-trick of victory when they take on a Sunrisers Hyderabad team that is on the rise in the Indian Premier League on April 14, 2023.

After losing to Punjab Kings in their opening encounter at Mohali, KKR found two unlikely heroes in their next two games to kick off their campaign.

First, a star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore team was caught off guard by Shardul Thakur's batting blitz as the fast bowling all-rounder's 29-ball 68 propelled KKR to their first victory of the year, a commanding 81-run victory.

Then, after pulling off the biggest theft in T20 history by scoring 31 runs in the final over to win a game, the low-key Rinku has become the player of the season.

Thanks to Rinku's incredible power hitting, KKR stunned the defending champion Gujarat Titans by three wickets at their home ground, the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.

The two-time defending champions, who were severely hurt by the loss of their captain Shreyas Iyer and ace all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan and were widely predicted to fail following a low-key auction, have unexpectedly emerged as the team to beat this year.

They are even more dangerous because the two victories came without any notable assistance from their star power-hitter Andre Russell or captain Nitish Rana.

The finishing alternatives have obviously been offered by Shardul and Rinku, but the KKR think-tank is eager to show that these two victories are not an aberration.

With the exception of a 19-ball 35 in their rain-delayed loss to Punjab Kings in their season opener, feared Jamaican power-hitter Russell hasn't looked like himself lately.

Russell would be eager to prove his credentials as he worked out in practise before the match on Friday with scores of 0 and 1 in the following two games.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz is expected to be replaced by England opener Jason Roy against SRH as KKR has experimented with different starting combinations in each of the first three games.

While Roy has been added as a replacement for Shakib, the Englishman is expected to be included, and Narayan Jagadeesan may don the wicketkeeping gloves, the Afghanistan player has impressed with a valiant fifty against RCB.

Regarding SRH, the Aiden Markram-led team appears strong on paper following some significant auction purchases including Harry Brook, Mayank Agarwal, and Heinrich Klaasen.

Despite having an abundance of white-ball specialists, SRH's first two games have been disappointing. But a remarkable 48-ball unbeaten 74 by Rahul Tripathi helped them upset Punjab Kings by eight wickets for their first victory of the year.

The team led by Brian Lara would aim to maintain their winning momentum and put up a good fight against KKR at home after the victory.

In order to keep the inning together in the middle overs, Tripathi will face up against his previous squad. Tripathi has the ability to tackle spin and swivel the strike in the middle of overs to land a counterpunch.

A big total from players like Brook and Klaasen would be desired by SRH.

The famous Brook, who was signed for Rs. 13.25 crore, has thus far managed scores of 13, 3, and 13.

Brook, a part of the England team that won the T20 World Cup last year, has appeared awkward in the opener's position, so moving him down the order would be a good idea.

The pace attack, lead by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Marco Jansen, will give KKR a tough time. They also have a strong spin attack with Washington Sundar and Mayank Markande, who just had a 4/15 against Punjab Kings.

A victory for third-placed KKR might move them to the top of the standings.

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