When SRH and KKR met for the first time, Umran Malik bowled a superb yorker to clean up Kolkata captain Shreyas Iyer.

The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will face the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in game 61 of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium (MCA) Stadium in Pune on Saturday. The match will be crucial for both sides to stay in the playoffs qualification hunt. Kolkata are eighth in the points table with 10 points from 12 matches. They have found belated form, winning two of their last three games. In their previous clash, they beat the Mumbai Indians (MI) by 52 runs. Hyderabad’s poor run in IPL 2022 continued as they lost their fourth match in a row by going down to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). Chasing 193, they were all out for 125. Here are five player battles to watch out for in KKR vs SRH clash.

1. Venkatesh Iyer vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar: Afterbeing movedup anddown the order and being subsequentlydropped, Venkatesh Iyer did well to make an impressive comeback against the Mumbai Indians. His stroke-filled 43 off 24 was exactly what Kolkata needed to reignite their IPL 2022 campaign. It might be a bit too late as KKR only have a slim chance of qualifying. But if Venkatesh fires, who knows what can happen. Having found confidence, he will be all the more dangerous. SRH will have to get rid of him early. They will look for Bhuvneshwar Kumar to do the job. The senior pacer has done his job at the start, keeping things extremely tight and claiming key wickets. Can he end Venkatesh’s resistance early?

2. Abhishek Sharma vs Tim Southee: YoungSRH Abhishek Sharma has been among the few positives for the team this season. When the team was winning, he made some crucial contributions. The left-hander has been dismissed for single-figure scores in the last two matches. With SRH’s hopes hanging by a thread, they will need Abhishek to stand up to the challenge. The southpaw could face a stern test from Tim Southee, who has been extremely impressive ever since he has come into the playing XI. Southee is a smart bowler, who can outwit batters with his variations. How Abhishek handles him can have a significant bearing on the SRH-KKR contest.

3. Shreyas Iyer vs Umran Malik: When SRH and KKR met for the first time, Umran Malik bowled a superb yorker to clean up Kolkata captain Shreyas Iyer. Bowling coach Dale Steyn’s reaction to the wicket said it all. Malik went on to claim a five-fer against Gujarat. However, he has been taken apart in the last three matches and doesn’t have any wickets to show. Shreyas’ batting has also gone off the boil after a bright start. The issues in the team haven’t helped him. With two struggling talents looking to stay relevant, this contest promises to be an intriguing one. Who will emerge on top this time?

4. Rahul Tripathi vs Sunil Narine: While SRH have been inconsistent, Rahul Tripathi has been, by some distance, their best performer. In almost every game he has made some contribution with the bat. Even during SRH’s loss to RCB, Tripathi was the lone man standing, coming up with a defiant fifty. He is an excellent player of spin. However, no one has been able to go after Sunil Narine in IPL 2022. Tripathi would look to attack him because that’s the way he bats. Whether he succeeds is a different matter.

5. Aiden Markram vs Varun Chakravarthy: SRH batter Aiden Markramhas also impressed with his clean hitting. He has an uncomplicated style of play. But Markram has displayed a good sense of judgment when it comes to playing the big strokes. KKR leggie Varun Chakravarthy made a decent comeback in the last match and is likely to be up against Markram in the middle overs. The battle could be crucial with regards to momentum of the innings.

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