KKR will be favourites in IPL title clash: Hayden and Pietersen

| | Chennai
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KKR will be favourites in IPL title clash: Hayden and Pietersen

Saturday, 25 May 2024 | PTI | Chennai

KKR will be favourites in IPL title clash: Hayden and Pietersen

Kolkata Knight Riders are better equipped to lift the IPL title on Sunday because of a superior spin attack and a better record against their rivals Sunrisers Hyderabad, reckon experts Matthew Hayden and Kevin Pietersen.

KKR had trumped SRH in league stage matches and it will give them an edge going into Sunday's summit clash, they say.

"I'm very confident that KKR are going to win here, as having a few days off, having the ability to watch this match, and understanding what the strengths and weaknesses of Sunrisers Hyderabad are will be helpful," Hayden said on Star Sports Cricket Live.

"KKR, having defeated SRH, is going to have great momentum. I also just feel that the quality spin of (Sunil) Narine and Varun Chakaravarthy on the red clay is going to make a difference."

The 52-year-old former Australia opener believes a strong mentality of players and team is important to win a rigorous tournament like the IPL.

"It's about just getting it right, really as simple as that. You've done all the hard work, traversed the country, been in and out of planes, buses, different hotels, and different beds. It's a really challenging, rigorous tournament, and only the strong-hearted get a chance to lift that trophy at the end.

"Luck will always play a little role in a sportsperson's life, no question, but more than anything, it's about making sure you're committed to your team on the day. What I saw from Rajasthan Royals was that while they were committed on one side of the match, they didn't fully believe when it came to batting (on Friday)," he said.

"They felt the strain and tension, and they succumbed to it. On the other hand, Sunrisers Hyderabad bounced back. It's not easy to bounce back in big matches after a loss. We were just talking about that with India and Pakistan. Finals are not about retreating into your shell.

"Finals are about sticking your chest out, owning your space, understanding your role, and going for the jugular. That's the mentality you need in a final. It's a hunt, and you need to be in it to win it," he added.

Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen too believes KKR are front-runners to win the IPL crown this time.

"I didn't like the way the Sunrisers threw in the towel the other evening in Ahmedabad, and I think it's going to put them on the back foot for the start on Sunday.

"The way they just finished that game off, Pat Cummins gave Travis Head the ball, and Shreyas Iyer just went bang, bang, bang. It'll give KKR a lot of confidence going into the finals knowing that they've already beaten SRH a couple of days ago," Pietersen said.

"So it's going to be really hard for the Sunrisers to get up, but I think they will because they won the SA20, so they know how to win. They've got a structure that knows how to win, and when you've got that belief within the franchise, that belief within the ownership, then momentum has its own way."

Pietersen feels toss will play a crucial factor but KKR's positive mindset will definitely hand them an edge over SRH.

"The toss is 50-50. I actually think that you have to consider the possibility of dew and also be prepared if it doesn't come. It's all about the mindset and confidence coming into this fixture.

"That's where I think KKR have an advantage, given the way they've played, their convincing win in qualifier one, and their preparation over the last three or four days.

"Also, look at their key players: the form of Sunil Narine at the top of the order, the batting form of Venkatesh Iyer, the skipper Shreyas Iyer's unbeaten 50 in the last game, and their impressive bowlers, especially the spinners Varun Chakaravarthy and Narine. They have a squad full of match-winners," he said.

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