IPL 2020: Hyderabad and Delhi's contrasting campaigns converge at final qualifying battle
Sunrisers have peaked at the right time ahead of Sunday's second qualifier while Capitals have faltered
The two sides vying for the chance to meet Mumbai Indians in the final of the 2020 IPL could scarcely have more differing moods ahead of their last-chance qualifier playoff.
When Delhi Capitals meet Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, it will pit a side apparently running out of steam against one who – not for the first time – are timing their run to the finish perfectly.
Delhi have won just once in their past six matches. Hyderabad have lost just once in the same space of time.
The closing throes of this competition have really told on a Delhi side that had cut a dash at the start of the campaign, with a young and exciting side, full of batting verve and high-velocity bowling.
The business end of the event has betrayed their lack of experience.
“We just need one more win to qualify,” Delhi’s players repeated in their TV flash interviews over the course of the final few games in the league stage. They got there in the end, but it was hardly convincing.
In the course of that muddled run, they were trounced by 88 runs by Hyderabad, who had no wriggle room when it came to making the playoffs. Only wins would do for them.
The steel they have shown over the past six matches is reminiscent of their run to the title in 2016. And, according to Jason Holder, they are buzzing.
“The morale in the camp is very positive,” Holder, the Hyderabad all-rounder, said.
“We have done really well in the back half of this tournament and peaked at the right stage.
"We are carrying really good momentum. It is important the guys keep stepping up.
“We have been really good as a unit. Different guys have been putting their hands up on different occasions, which is why we have been able to get to this point.
“With one more big effort we will definitely be into the final.”
Hyderabad’s upturn in fortunes coincides identically with Holder’s elevation to the side.
The West Indies captain has only played six matches since arriving in the UAE as injury cover, and the side have been transformed since.
His impact has been striking, especially given he is not particularly heralded as a T20 player.
“I have had a few injuries in the past couple of years that have really hampered my preparation,” Holder said.
“I wasn’t able to bowl as much in the nets. I had a bad shoulder. I had surgery on my elbow as well. It is good to have the body back in good shape.
“I’ve been able to work a little harder at practice, to fine turn my skills, and get that mental confidence going into games.
“I think I’m in a good place at the moment, and I think so deeply about executing.”
As strong as their form has been, Hyderabad do have one significant issue ahead of the qualifier.
Wriddhiman Saha missed their eliminator playoff against Royal Challengers Bangalore through injury.
The India wicketkeeper has been just as crucial as Holder to his side’s recent revival, and his 45-ball 87 provided the platform for the win over Delhi last time the sides met.
Ricky Ponting, Delhi’s coach, said his side need to find a way to arrest their run of poor form.
“We have got to dig deep and find ways to get better,” Ponting said.
“We know in the tournament there are no easy games, you just had to see how the [league phase] finished to understand nothing comes easy in the IPL.
“That is something we have been talking about to all the players. You can’t afford to take a single ball for granted in this competition. If you do, the game will come back to bite you pretty quickly.”
Updated: November 7, 2020 05:17 PM