Sunrisers have bounced back from a forgettable start to win their last three matches, while Punjab got over the last-over heartbreak against Gujarat Titans to beat Mumbai Indians by 12 runs in their previous outing. The subplot of the contest could well be the brute pace of Umran Malik testing Punjab’s power hitters.
Umran, the young quick from the Kashmir valley, has grabbed headlines for his tearaway speed as well as his ability to hurry even the best of the batters this season.
So far, Malik has hurled the top five quickest deliveries, the fastest being 153.3 kph. The 22-year-old will take a lot of confidence after the stunning yorker that left Kolkata Knight Riders’ in-form skipper Shreyas Iyer without an answer on Friday night.
Against a batting line-up that boasts the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Shikhar Dhawan, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone and Shahrukh Khan, Malik could pose a few questions. Having said that, Punjab will be bolstered by the return to form of their skipper.
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Mayank Agarwal scored a cracking half-century against Mumbai, and will expect the duo of Mayank and Shikhar to set the tone for the English duo of Bairstow and Livingstone to explode.
On the bowling front, Punjab will hope for the new-ball pair of Kagiso Rabada and Arshdeep Singh, and the promising Vaibhav Arora, to carry on the momentum. Rahul Chahar has been impressive barring the odd over against Dewald Brevis in the last match, but their main worry will be the fifth-bowling option.
Despite his four-wicket burst against Mumbai, Odean Smith will look to better his economy rate of almost 12. 14, or Punjab might be tempted to try Benny Howell, who boasts of an improved record.
Sunrisers, on the other hand, have been clinical in their approach, with the top order’s measured approach paying dividends this past week. Abhishek Sharma and skipper Kane Williamson starred in their first two wins while against KKR on Friday, it was Rahul Tripathi and Aiden Markram who ensured victory. Left-arm spinner Jagadeesha Suchith too had a decent outing on Friday.