As much as Royal Challengers Bangalore pride themselves for entering the final last year even after a disastrous start, they will be utterly disappointed that they are faced with a similar, mountainous task of winning at least five out of the last seven games. What makes the challenge more difficult is that they are up against the side that beat them in the final last year, that too at the same venue.
Only this time, the home side are coming into the game from a morale-shattering loss at the hands of KKR.
Plenty has gone wrong for the Bangalore-based franchise this season. Their star players suffered injuries coming into the IPL, and when all the players were fit and playing, they failed to click as a unit and often found themselves on the wrong side of the result. However, the one thing that the Virat Kohli-led team can do is to believe that they have done it once and they can do it again.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, despite losing a close game against RPS, are comfortably placed in 3rd spot on the points table with 10 points and a decent run rate of +0.481. However, they will be well aware that a win here could make their path to the playoffs much easier and therefore will look to come out all guns blazing.
Having won their last two encounters against RCB, they will fancy themselves for another win. Particularly with the kind of bowling attack they have.
#1 With the bat
RCB had an off day against KKR and we don’t expect such a performance to be repeated from a quality side like RCB. A batting line-up boasting of names such as Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers is never to be taken lightly, even if they are completely out of form.
Despite a much-improved performance by RCB bowlers, batting still remains their biggest strength. The star trio of Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers must be hurting after the loss against KKR and will look for a quick turnaround. Look out for these three, they always deliver when the team needs them.
SRH, as always will look to their top three to get the bulk of the runs. David Warner had rare failures in the last two matches and should he fail again, it could cause a lot of problems for SRH. Moises Henriques, however, has looked in great touch.
After an impressive fifty in the previous game, the Aussie all-rounder will look to back it up with another good performance. And, we still haven’t seen the best of Yuvraj Singh this season, and this game may be the perfect start.
#2 With the ball
Though he had an average start to life in the IPL, Tymal Mills, has slowly found his form with the ball. He was particularly exceptional in the last match with his variations and flummoxed the opponent batsmen with the well-disguised back of the hand deliveries.
And with Chaha getting three crucial wickets, RCB will feel much confident about their bowling. The leggie has been the stalwart of their bowling, and along with Mills, he will have to play a huge role in turning the tide in RCB’s favour.
On the other hand, the visitors will look to forget their rare failure with the ball in the last game. While their bowling was good, it was MS Dhoni’s excellence that took the game away from SRH against Pune.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the purple cap holder, has simply been outstanding in the powerplay overs and at the death. Rashid Khan, too, has provided important breakthroughs. In all, SRH are a much better bowling side and how they perform could well decide the fate of the game.
The two teams know each other very well and must have already chalked the game plans. For RCB, it will be a question of handling Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Rashid Khan and they should look to play out both of them without giving too many wickets.
SRH do lack a quality fifth bowler and the batting-heavy RCB will look to make the best of that weakness of SRH. If RCB can get Warner out cheaply, they could put the relatively weak middle-order of SRH under pressure.
The game plan for SRH will be much simpler - get the top three of RCB as quickly as possible. Time and again we have seen how RCB crumble when they lose wickets in the powerplay. Bhuvneshwar and Nehra will look to swing the new ball and make early indoors.
#4 The toss factor
Win the toss, bowl first seems to be the trend these days. Teams prefer chasing as it easier to pace an innings if the batsman knows the required rate and the dew might come into the picture later in the match.
With RCB not too confident about their bowling they would back their batting to come good and chase down the total. Kohli, who has mastered the art of chasing, would look to bring out his best as everything is on the line for RCB.
With both teams being unsure of how the track will play it might be a good idea to bat second.
#5 How will the Chinnaswamy surface play?
One of the reasons why RCB have struggled this year is because they have failed to chalk out strategies and plans to use at the Chinnaswamy and the surprisingly slow nature of the pitch. It’s certainly not the same flat deck that produced high-scoring games in the IPL in the past.
It will be interesting to see how the pitch will play which could also decide the combinations of the squads. SRH might look into bringing in the big-hitting all-rounder, Ben Cutting, in place of Bipul Sharma. Cutting, who won the Man of the Match award in the final last year could be very handy with his pace variations if the surface is on the slower side.
RCB would have learnt from their mistakes and should put up a better performance this time around. It is going to be a cracker of a contest, this one.