David Warner with Wriddhiman Saha (Image: BCCI/IPL/Twitter)
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad opened their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 campaign by playing against each other. The two sides meet again on October 31 for the fifty-second game of the 13th season at the Sharjah cricket stadium. It is the penultimate league game for both sides and will decide if Hyderabad will stay or be knocked out of the tournament.
If the 2016 champions have been inconsistent in their performance and team selection, injuries to key players have played a big part. Last match’s hero, Wriddhiman Saha, has a groin injury is not sure of making it to the Playing XI and so is ‘hamstrung’ all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
This season, Hyderabad were off to a hobbling start, with injuries forcing Mitchell Marsh and Bhuveshwar Kumar out of the tournament.
RCB have been fortunate. All-rounder Christ Morris who struggled in the first five games is fit enough to bowl and bat in the death overs.
In the 16 head-to-head encounters between the two south Indian franchises, eight games have gone the Hyderabad way and seven have been won by Bangalore. One game remained undecided. SRH’s one-win advantage mattered the most in 2016 IPL final when David Warner’s side won the game by 8 runs.
Since that win, this is the first time Hyderabad are in danger of not making it to the playoffs if they lose against RCB. They can draw some comfort from the fact that none of these teams have managed a clean sweep (2-0) against each other in the league stage. RCB has already won the first game and will it be SRH’s game today?
Opening battles critical
RCB’s openers have performed admirably but SRH are not only the better but the best side as far as the power-play overs are concerned. SRH’s scoring rate of 8.24 is terrific and they have lost the least number of wickets (9) in this phase.
Other than the openers, no one in the SRH middle order has made an impression on fans or experts. Their rivals RCB have an envious line-up of batsmen that follows the top order but they have struggled in the middle overs (7-15), scoring below 7 an over which is the lowest of all teams.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Josh Philippe, 2 Devdutt Padikkal, 3 Virat Kohli (captain), 4 AB de Villiers (wicketkeeper), 5 Gurkeerat Singh Mann, 6 Shivam Dube, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Isuru Udana, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal
Sunrisers Hyderabad: 1 David Warner (capt), 2. Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 3 Manish Pandey, 4 Kane Williamson, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Abdul Samad, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Rashid Khan, 9 Shahbaz Nadeem, 10 T Natarajan, 11 Sandeep Sharma(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter) Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here