RR Vs SRH, IPL 2024 Qualifier 2: Three Key Player Battles To Watch Out For

The Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan Royals have got here by breaking a five-match winless streak, while Sunrisers Hyderabad had a patently bad day in office against Kolkata Knight Riders. Check out three key player battles from the RR vs SRH, Qualifier 2 clash

RR vs RCB, IPL 2024 Eliminator, BCCI file photo
Rajasthan Royals beat Royal Challengers Bengaluru by four wickets in the IPL 2024 Eliminator to enter Qualifier 2. Photo: BCCI/IPL

And then there were three. The 17th season of Indian Premier League is down to its last two games, and three contenders to the throne remain. Qualifier 2 pits early favourites Rajasthan Royals against the rampaging Sunrisers Hyderabad at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday, May 24. (Preview | Streaming | Full IPL Coverage)

The Sanju Samson-led RR have got here by breaking a five-match winless streak and dashing Royal Challengers Bengaluru's hopes in the Eliminator. Ravichandran Ashwin and Trent Boult kept things ultra tight with the ball to help restrict Bengaluru to 172, and the youth brigade of Yashasvi Jaiswal and Riyan Parag batted responsibly to guide the Royals past the target, though not before a late scare.

SRH, on the other hand, could not withstand Mitchell Starc's seam fury and Venkatesh, Shreyas Iyer's blazing bats to slump to a comprehensive eight-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad. They could afford to do that, however, as it was Qualifier 1, and finishing in the top two in the league phase means the Sunrisers will have a second shot at making the final of IPL 2024.

Before the RR vs SRH match begins in Chennai, here are three key player battles to watch out for.

Travis Head Vs Ravichandran Ashwin

The dangerous Travis Head was dismissed for back-to-back ducks in SRH's previous two games. But the Australian southpaw has a history of rising like a phoenix to befuddle oppositions in knockout games - ask the Indian men's cricket team. Couple that with the demolition he has unleashed this season, and Head becomes the most prized scalp in Hyderabad's line-up.

Who better than the wily Ravichandran Ashwin to prise out the scalp? The spin maestro has had a relatively indifferent tournament so far by his tall standards, but showed just how valuable he is, in the Eliminator. Ashwin will try to take the ball away from Head's arc with his off-spin and a gripping contest is on the cards.

Abhishek Sharma Vs Yuzvendra Chahal

Like Head, his aggressive opening partner Abhishek Sharma too had an off day with the bat against KKR in Qualifier 1. But considering how the duo has dismantled attack after attack, and smashed world records in the process in IPL 2024, another onslaught could well be on the cards. If Sharma fires next to Head, the match is as good as decided.

RR, though have a worthy spin arsenal to counter that threat. In addition to Ashwin, the Rajasthan franchise have IPL's all-time wicketboard leader Yuzvendra Chahal in their ranks. The pitch at Chepauk has been known to aid spinners in the past, and if there is even a hint of turn on offer on Friday, Chahal will lap it up.

Riyan Parag Vs Pat Cummins

Not for nothing has the 22-year-old Riyan Parag been tagged as a potential superstar of Indian cricket. The middle-order batter from Assam has had a solid season, playing a series of crucial knocks to help propel the Royals. He averages 43.71 in his last 10 outings with a strike rate of 146.41, and just like the last game, will be expected to hold fort in Qualifier 2 as well.

And for that, he will need to tackle the redoubtable skills and experience of SRH pace spearhead Pat Cummins. Though the Sunrisers skipper has been among the wickets in all but two of his last 10 matches, he hasn't yet had a performance with the ball that stood out. Could Friday be the night for the 31-year-old? We will find out soon.