HYDERABAD: On a roll after three consecutive wins, a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad will start as overwhelming favourites against struggling Rising Pune Supergiants in an Indian Premier League match, here tomorrow.
After losing two games in a row, Sunrisers turned their fortunes around by posting comprehensive wins against Mumbai Indians (by 7 wickets), Gujarat Lions (by 10 wickets) and Kings XI Punjab (by 5 wickets).
The Hyderabad outfit is occupying the fourth spot in the eight-team standings with six points from five games. On the contrary, Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Supergiants are languishing at the seventh spot with just two points from five encounters. Despite injuries to its key players, including Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra and Kane Williamson, the Hyderabad side has been on a high with the team clicking collectively in the last three games. SRH captain and swashbuckling Australian batsman David Warner has been in great form and is presently the highest run scorer with 294 runs from five games which includes four half centuries.
Warner is just behind Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli who is leading the chart with 367 runs from five games.
But for SRH the big relief would be the return to form opener Shikhar Dhawan after a poor show in the first three matches of the season. Dhawan regained his touch with unbeaten 53 against Gujarat Lions and 45 against Kings XI Punjab.
Other SRH batsmen, including Moises Henriques, Eoin Morgan and wicket-keeper Naman Ojha, have also been making useful contributions for the side in crucial situations.
Despite the absence of the seasoned Nehra, SRH bowlers have made an impact to make it difficult for their rivals.
In Nehra's absence, seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been leading SRH's bowling department and is currently the second- highest wicket taker with eight scalps from five games.
But it is young Bangladesh left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman who has been the most impressive. He has been using his variations to perfection to earn the accolades from his skipper.
Mustafizur, in fact, is fourth on the wicket takers list with seven scalps but it is his misery economy rate of 5.75 per over that what has impressed all and sundry.
Besides, the likes of Barinder Sran, Deepak Hooda and Bipul Sharma have also been impressive with the ball although they leaked runs on some occasions.
New outfit Supergiants, on the other hand, have been struggling to find the right team combination, a fact which head coach Stephen Fleming duly accepted. After the win over Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener, the Supergiants have suffered four consecutive defeats -- against Gujarat Lions (by 7 wickets), Kings XI Punjab (by 6 wickets), Royal Challengers Bangalore (by 13 runs) and Kolkata Knight Riders (by 2 wickets last night).
And come tomorrow, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be eager to break the sequence of reverses and get the Supergiants' campaign back on track.
Having moved to Pune this year from the banned Chennai Super Kings, where he enjoyed great success, Dhoni will be keen to replicate that in his new jersey with a bit of help from his teammates.
So far, it hasn't been a smooth campaign for India's twin World Cup winning captain, barring the tournament opener against defending champions against Mumbai Indians.
For a team comprising Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis, Ajinkya Rahane, Thissara Perera besides Dhoni, such results are surprising.
The Supergiants have also been dealt a severe blow in the form of Kevin Pietersen, who have been ruled out for the remainder of the tournament with a calf muscle injury.
Among the team's overseas players Du Plessis has been among runs while Smith is to yet fire in the tournament even though he got starts.
While Rahane's well made 67 went in vain in the last match, Dhoni is contributing down the order for the new side.
But what has hurt Supergiants the most has been the team's indifferent bowling efforts.
Pacer Ishant Sharma is not regarded a potent T20 bowler and has been on and off the playing eleven while the likes of Thissara Perera and Albie Morkel needs to shoulder more responsibility in the pace unit.
Medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia has been impressed but the Supergiants have been hit hard by the inconsistent performances of spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Murugan Ashwin and Ankit Sharma.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Ashish Reddy, Ricky Bhui, Bipul Sharma, Trent Boult, Ben Cutting, Shikar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Abhimanyu Midtun, Eoin Morgan, Mustafizur Rahman, Ashish Mehra, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shanker, Karn Sharma, Barinder Sran, T Suman, Aditya Tare, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh.
Rising Pune Supergiants: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (C), Ajinkya Rahane, Kevin Pietersen, Faf du Plessis, Steve Smith, Mitchell Marsh, Jaskaran Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ankit Sharma, Albie Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Thisara Perera, Saurabh Tiwary, RP Singh, Rajat Bhatia, Ankush Bains, Baba Aparajith, Murugan Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Deepak Chahar, Scott Boland, Peter Handscomb, Adam Zampa.