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Never Fold Canada puts Punjabis out of Punjab back in cricket

Match details

Rajasthan Royals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, Qualifier 2Chennai, 1930 IST (1400 GMT)

Big picture - SRH's batters vs RR's bowlers

The SRH batters have written and rewritten the record books in IPL 2024. Before this season, the highest team total in the IPL was 263 for 5, by Royal Challengers Bengaluru in 2013. SRH have breached that mark three times this season.

Those gargantuan totals were set up by Travis Head and Abhishek Sharma, the most destructive pair in the IPL history with a partnership run rate of 13.65 (min. 10 stands). Their aggressive approach also meant that SRH are the only team to score 100 or more in the powerplay this season, a feat they have achieved twice. This is even before we come to Heinrich Klaasen, arguably the best T20 batter in the past 12 months.

RR's batting line-up may not be as destructive but they have one of the best bowling units: a left-arm swinger at the top, two world-class spinners in the middle and two wily seamers at the death. The battle between their bowlers and SRH's batters could decide who moves to the final.

SRH, who had finished second in the league stage, are coming from a loss against Kolkata Knight Riders in Qualifier 1, while RR will be buoyed by their win against RCB in the Eliminator. However, neither team had a good time when they last played in Chennai. Chasing 213 against Chennai Super Kings, SRH folded for a mere 134. When RR came here two weeks ago, they could manage only 141 for 5 batting first and went on to lose by five wickets.

Form guide

Rajasthan Royals WLLLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)Sunrisers Hyderabad LWWLW

Previous meeting

It was a last-ball thriller when they met earlier this month. Chasing 202, RR needed two from one ball but Rovman Powell failed to put away a full toss from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and was lbw. Before that, Nitish Kumar Reddy's unbeaten 76 off 42, backed by Head's fifty and Klaasen's 42 not out, gave SRH a competitive total. In response, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Riyan Parag scored half-centuries but RR fell just short.

Team news and Impact Player strategy

Rajasthan Royals

The slow nature of the Chepauk pitch may make Keshav Maharaj a tempting third-spinner option for RR. But if they are bowling first, Maharaj's inclusion could mean rejigging their overseas combo, and one wonders if they'd go even risk going in with just two seam-bowling options in a must-win.

But if they are batting first, they can start with three overseas players, and bring in either Powell or Maharaj as the Impact Player depending on their progress.

Probable XII: 1 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 2 Tom Kohler-Cadmore, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Riyan Parag, 5 Dhruv Jurel, 6 Shimron Hetmyer, 7 Rovman Powell/Keshav Maharaj, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Avesh Khan, 11 Sandeep Sharma, 12 Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad

If SRH want to strengthen their batting, they can bring in either Aiden Markram or Glenn Phillips for Vijayakanth Viyaskanth. Both Markram and Phillips can chip in with their offspin. Mayank Markande could be their legspinner in that case, replacing Sanvir Singh.

If they are batting first, they too can start with only three overseas players: Head, Klaasen and the captain Pat Cummins. Depending on how it goes, they can either bring in Phillips or Viyaskanth.

Probable XII: 1 Travis Head, 2 Abhishek Sharma, 3 Rahul Tripathi, 4 Aiden Markram/Glenn Phillips/Vijayakanth Viyaskanth, 5 Nitish Kumar Reddy, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Abdul Samad, 8 Shahbaz Ahmed, 9 Pat Cummins (capt), 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Mayank Markande, 12 T Natarajan

In the spotlight - R Ashwin and Travis Head

R Ashwin did not have a great start to IPL 2024. In the first nine games, he picked up just two wickets at an economy of 9.00. During this time, he was also struggling with an abdomen tear, which did not allow him to complete his action. But of late, he appears to have found his rhythm. In the last four games, he has picked up seven wickets at an economy of 6.81. Playing at his home ground, with the pitch likely to aid spinners, he will be keen to continue that form which earned him the Player-of-the-Match award in the eliminator.

Travis Head has been the MVP for SRH, often killing the game in the powerplay itself. But in the last two games, he has fetched two ducks - on both occasions bowled by a left-arm seamer. RR, too, have a left-arm seamer in Trent Boult but Boult has never dismissed Head in T20 cricket. Moreover, Head has taken him for 52 runs in 30 balls. His recent dismissals notwithstanding, it's unlikely Head will bide his time against Boult.

Stats that matterIn IPL 2024, SRH are the fastest-scoring side in the powerplay (run rate 11.48), and RR the most frugal bowling side (economy 8.03).Ashwin has never dismissed Head but has managed to keep him quiet, conceding only ten runs in 17 balls. On the other hand, Abhishek has taken him on: 28 runs in 18 balls for one dismissal.Klaasen has dominated his match-up against Yuzvendra Chahal: 108 runs off 46 balls, three dismissals.Jaiswal has hit Bhuvneshwar for 54 runs in 33 balls without ever being dismissed. He has an equally impressive record against Cummins: 25 runs in 12 balls, no dismissal.Shimron Hetmyer has scored only eight runs in 16 balls off Bhuvneshwar, though the seamer has never dismissed him.Pitch and conditions

It's going to be hot and humid. And with dew expected in the second innings, the teams may prefer bowling first on winning the toss. The recent history also backs that: chasing teams have won five of the seven games played here this season.