There will come a point when the most balanced bowling attack of the tournament is unable to carry a batting line-up that has failed to get off the ground. Sunrisers Hyderabad will be hoping that time is not now, when they take on Kings XI Punjab at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Friday (April 19).
Kings XI have been up and down, but the Sunrisers' path has been clear. While their batsmen, both the international crew led by Kumar Sangakkara and the young Indian brigade represented by the likes of Akshath Reddy, have failed to fire, the bowling has worked miracles.
Dale Steyn was always expected to be a major force in the sixth edition of the Pepsi Indian Premier League, given that his pace and late swing render the pitch conditions irrelevant. Even on the flattest of decks Steyn has what it takes to beat the bat regularly and, with a bit of luck, he will always be among the wickets.
What has been a revelation for the Sunrisers is the legspin of Amit Mishra. Although there is no doubting his quality - you don't pick up 448 first class wickets without serious skill - there has been a general belief that Mishra was too slow through the air to be a consistent force in the limited-overs game. With two hat-tricks in the IPL coming into the tournament and a dramatic third one in the Sunrisers' last outing, against the hapless Pune Warriors, Mishra has shown that nothing stops the opposition like taking wickets. Although he might still be occasionally taken for runs on a bad day, Mishra has shown that he has more than enough good days to be an asset to his team.
"I did not try for any tricks, I wanted to keep it simple," Mishra said after the last game. "I did not think of any other thing, just bowled to get the wickets and I got a hat-trick. Cameron White said to me that I should go for wickets and I did just that. It's a great feeling, I am happy to help my team win today. The team is working together, supporting each other."
While the team may be a cohesive unit, they certainly need more from their batsmen, starting with Sangakkara and White. While the Sunrisers wait for the return of Shikhar Dhawan, who is yet to recover from a hand injury sustained during his Test debut against England at Mohali, they need the other batsmen in their mix to deliver.
For Kings XI, who have won two matches and lost as many, the game in an opportunity to prey on the opposition's obvious weakness and sneak up the points table. Adam Gilchrist, the captain, has failed to fire, but when he does, things could look different for a team who were lifted hugely by the return of Manpreet Gony, who was among the runs and wickets in the first match he played. In Ryan Harris, Parvinder Awana and Praveen Kumar the Kings XI have an energetic and imaginative quick bowling unit, and will be a tough team to beat.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (capt, wk), Azhar Mahmood, David Hussey, David Miller, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Luke Pomersbach, Ryan Harris, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Harmeet Singh Bansal, Mandeep Singh, Manpreet Gony, Nitin Saini (wk), Parvinder Awana, Paul Valthaty, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Manan Vohra, Aniket Choudhary, R Sathish, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), Cameron White, Chris Lynn, Darren Sammy, Dale Steyn, Nathan McCullum, Quinton de Kock (wk), Thisara Perera, Akshath Reddy, Amit Mishra, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharma, Ashish Reddy, Biplab Samantray, Dwarka Ravi Teja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma, Parthiv Patel (wk), Sachin Rana, Sudeep Tyagi, Thalaivan Sargunam, Veer Pratap Singh.