High-flying Punjab battle Hyderabad in search of fourth victory on the trot
The league's most in-form team, Punjab will battle Hyderabad in what will be a crucial game for both sides, as they look to keep their hopes of securing a spot in the playoffs.
Both teams are coming off wins, with Punjab beating league-leaders Delhi and Hyderabad registering a comfortable victory over Rajasthan.
Here are the key facts ahead of the contest:
Pooran's powerful impact
With KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal carrying the team’s batting effort for the majority of the season, the recent upturn in form of the team's other batsmen, especially Nicholas Pooran, has been a huge boost to the team's playoffs chances.
After Punjab's opening pair were dismissed cheaply against Delhi, Pooran took the game to the best bowling unit in the league, showing no respect whatsoever in his swashbuckling knock of 53 off 28 balls.
Pooran will back himself to do well against Hyderabad considering how well he’s fared against them in his Indian T20 League career. The West Indian has scored 98 runs against them, the most he’s managed against any team in his rather nascent Indian T20 League career.
Furthermore, Pooran also has a strike rate of 208.50 against Hyderabad, also his highest against any team in the league. Punjab will be expecting another handy knock from their flamboyant Windian.
Players to watch out for:
Punjab – Mohammad Shami
The performance of the Punjab bowling attack in any given contest can be gauged by simply looking at Mohammad Shami's figures in that match. The speedster is the heartbeat of Punjab's bowling unit and it comes as no surprise why the team's attack has been in good touch of late, with Shami rekindling his early-season form. The ace had picked up two wickets in each of his last three matches and has quickly climbed on the list of the leading wicket-takers this season. Shami had a rather rough outing in the reverse fixture, finishing the contest with figures of 1/40 and he'll be keen on setting the record straight against Hyderabad.
Hyderabad – Manish Pandey
Coming off a match-winning knock against Rajasthan, Manish Pandey will be itching to get back out in the centre and prove his worth to the team. His unbeaten 83 was just his third half-century of the campaign but an innings like this could be the spark Pandey needed to rejuvenate his season and finish on a high note. Punjab has been Pandey's second favourite opponent, having scored 522 runs against them in the league, one of only two teams that he’s scored over 500 runs against, with Mumbai being the other. Pandey will be relishing the chance to continue where he left off against Rajasthan.
Stats to watch out:
1: Hyderabad's Sandeep Sharma needs just one wicket to complete 100 scalps in the Indian T20 League.
11: David Warner has hit 11 fifty-plus scores against Punjab, the most by any player against them.
31: Chris Gayle has hit 31 sixes against Hyderabad in the league, the most by any batsman against the two-time champions
36: The Universe Boss needs just 36 runs to complete 1000 runs for Punjab in the league. He'll join a handful of men to have scored a thousand runs for a team, having already achieved the feat for Bangalore.
77: Hyderabad's Manish Pandey needs just 77 runs to complete 1000 for the team. He will become the second Indian batsman after Shikhar Dhawan and the fourth overall to reach the landmark.
Punjab are hot, have multiple players in great touch, they are well-rested and are the favourites by quite some margin to win this contest.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Noah Seelam