The 2018 Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have matched and even surpassed expectations in the 11th edition of the league. Be it bowling, batting or fielding, both the franchises have ticked all the right boxes and are have come out as top contenders to lift the coveted trophy on May 27 at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai. Having almost crossed the half-way mark of the tournament both teams would want to up the ante and focus on different game plans to outclass their opponents.
The Hyderabad-based franchise, who were crowned champions of IPL 2016, were dealt with a huge blow when their captain David Warner was banned from playing in the league due to his active involvement in the ball-tampering scandal that had shook the entire cricket fraternity.
Following Warner's exit, the SRH management handed over the reins of captaincy to Kane Williamson and till now, the New Zealander has been on point with his leadership, making headlines for defending two low totals (118 vs Mumbai Indians and 132 against KXIP) and leading a young bowling attack - Rashid Khan, Siddharth Kaul, Basil Thampi, - that has been sensational this season.
However, Williamson should be wary of his team's poor batting performance and should address the issue quickly in order to fill the missing blank in his team's all-round performance.
The Ravichandran Ashwin-led KXIP, this season, has been on the money from the word go. Not only did they made the headlines when they bought Chris Gayle in the last round of the IPL 2018 players auction but also when team mentor Virender Sehwag announced Ashwin as their new captain.
Unlike the earlier seasons, the Punjab-based franchise is not languishing in the bottom half of the IPL 2018 Points Table and has certainly dispelled the tag of 'underdogs.'
With the likes of Gayle, KL Rahul (scored the fastest 50 -- 14 balls of IPL 2018), Yuvraj Singh, Aaron Finch and David Miller among others, in their batting line-up, Punjab can never be written off when it comes to putting competitive total on the board or chasing down big totals.
Not only the batting but the bowling line-up consisting of Mujeeb-ur Rahman, Ankit Rajpoot and Mohit Sharma has been remarkable, making the team an out and out balanced playing XI.
At the time of writing this article, SRH were placed second (12 points from eight matches), KXIP were in close proximity, at third spot with 10 points from seven matches in the IPL 2018 points table.