Sunrisers Hyderabad were able to snap their three-match losing streak dominantly at home against Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday. Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, missed out narrowly against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday and now have four consecutive losses. They're now tied on eight points with Sunrisers, but having played one more game, and more worryingly, lost three in three at home, Knight Riders might be hitting their panic buttons.
In theory, they are only two points behind the fourth-placed Kings XI Punjab. But they're also the team with the worst form in the IPL at the moment, and have to turn it around in an afternoon game against Sunrisers in Hyderabad: that is fewer than 48 hours between games.
Captain Dinesh Karthik said after the loss to RCB that the situation can sometimes get overwhelming; that it can become difficult to see where the next win is coming. If that has crept in, the silver lining for Knight Riders is that the last time they won, they were on the road in Jaipur. Karthik still believes one win is all they would need to switch the momentum in their favour.
Sunrisers won't be letting their own momentum slip too easy. They have six matches remaining, and only two of those are at home. It will also be the beginning of the end for their star opening pair, with Jonny Bairstow expected to leave for the England World Cup camp on April 24, and David Warner to follow soon after. They'll be looking to squeeze every last bit of that advantage with the knowledge that they need at least four of their six remaining games to stay in contention.
In the news
It has rained in Hyderabad for two consecutive afternoons - around the time the match is scheduled to start. On Saturday, the ground was completely covered as a thunderstorm accompanied the Sunrisers' bus into training. However, several weather services have forecast a clear afternoon on Sunday.
Knight Riders did not train on match eve.
The second match of the season, when Sunrisers' new opening pair showed the first glimpse of what's to come, putting up 118 and helping Sunrisers post 181 in Kolkata. Unfortunately for them, it also turned out to be the star of Andre Russell's outrageous season, his 19-ball 49 helping them scale down the target with three balls to spare.
Sunrisers Hyderabad:1 David Warner, 2 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Vijay Shankar, 5 Deepak Hooda 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 Sandeep Sharma, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 6 Shubman Gill, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/KC Cariappa, 10 Prasidh Krishna, 11 Harry Gurney
The last time they met, Knight Riders did not open with Sunil Narine after he sustained a finger injury, going instead with Nitish Rana. If they go that way again, Shubman Gill could go back to opening - where his only fifty of the season has come - and allow Robin Uthappa to go back to a more suitable No. 3 after his 9 off 20 balls against Royal Challengers
Knight Riders may also think about resting Kuldeep Yadav who has currently taken four wickets in nine innings at 71.5, his worst returns in an IPL season. KC Cariappa is an option to replace him
Kane Williamson is yet to bat beyond ten balls this season. He could be allowed time to settle down by promoting someone like Yusuf Pathan to No. 4 should the openers provide another big start
Stats that matter
Warner and Bairstow have put on six 50-plus partnerships in eight innings this season. Three of those have been century stands
Having taken no wickets in the first three matches and going at 10.6 an over, Bhuvneshwar has turned it around with five wickets in the last five games at an economy of 7 per over
Knight Riders have won 71.4% of the matches in which Kuldeep has gone at lesser than 8 per over. On the flip side, they've lost 72.7% of the time when his economy is greater than 9 per over
Knight Riders need one more win to become the sixth T20 team to have 100 wins