We have reached the 52nd match of this IPL edition. It is a stage where all teams have different agendas. The two teams contesting can take the field with different motives. Those watching them play will hope for differing outcomes. Some matches will be inconsequential. This game - between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore - satisfy all these clauses.
Both Hyderabad and Bangalore will have a win on their mind. For Hyderabad, it is about salvaging their pride to cap off a disappointing campaign. They need a win to get off the dreaded mark of 4 points - the lowest scored by a team in an 8-team IPL season. It is a record set by their predecessors, Deccan Chargers back in the inaugural season of IPL in 2008. It was matched by the Delhi franchise in 2014.
Bangalore, on the contrary, have a shot at Qualifier 1 with a chance to book a spot in the Top two. They need to win both their games while hoping for Chennai to lose their last league fixture. The other teams, except Chennai, won’t have any interest in this clash.
Bangalore’s Powerplay bowling offers Hyderabad a chance
It is no rocket science to deduce that Hyderabad is always in dire need of runs from its top three. Without a good start, they are like a fish without water that relies on one of the most languid middle-orders this season. The only game they have won in this leg was when Jason Roy scored 60 on his IPL debut, against Rajasthan.
Bangalore’s bowling provides them an opportunity to get that impetus. One of the better bowling sides overall in IPL 2021, Bangalore have looked rather clueless in the first six overs. They are the only team yet to pick a wicket in the Powerplay in this leg, having played five matches. Their economy of 9.2 runs in this phase is the worst. It would be a job for Roy and Wriddhiman Saha to make an early impact for Hyderabad because life will only get tougher once the ball softens up.
Bangalore’s panache to come back
Despite poor starts, Bangalore pull things back once the field restrictions are lifted. They choked Mumbai from 57/0 to 111 all out, Rajasthan from 77/0 to 149 all out and Punjab from 91/0 to 158/6 to script their last three wins. Their strike-rate of 15 balls per wicket in overs seven to 15 is the best in this UAE leg.
The formula has been simple - take pace off the ball, first with the spin of Yuzvendra Chahal and then with the slower ones of Harshal Patel in the death overs. Chahal has reaped benefits off the sluggish tracks to turn his season around. In the aforementioned comebacks, his figures have read 3/11, 2/18 and 3/29.
Harshal, the Purple Cap holder at present, has picked 8 wickets at the death and has appeared invincible on occasions with his dipping slower ball. Mohammed Siraj has provided apt support.
It is tough to see how Hyderabad’s underperforming middle-order can get past these hurdles. Hence, runs from Roy, Saha and Kane Williamson become more crucial.
The David v Goliath contest
The other way around - Hyderabad with the ball and Bangalore with the bat - is sort of a David v Goliath battle. Primarily a bowling side, Hyderabad have been let down by their talisman pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The senior man is having his worst IPL season, taking only five wickets in 10 games he has played. His average (62) and economy (8.2) are both at their worst in a season. Rashid Khan has also had better tournaments in terms of making timely inroads.
Consequently, Hyderabad are amidst their least productive bowling season, a major reason behind their fall to the eighth spot.
Bangalore are not having their best year with the bat but they have the missing pieces come together. Glenn Maxwell is the biggest plus. It is not only his 407 runs but the strike-rate of 145 with which he has scored them. The 32-year old has neutralized the challenge of the middle-overs with his maverick strokeplay. In UAE where nearly every match has been played on low and slow surfaces, Maxwell has walked out to bat only after the Powerplay and yet he has accrued 184 runs, averaging 46 at a strike-rate of 146.
Virat Kohli has showed intent at the top, scoring at a rate of 146.7 in the Powerplay and is dismissed only once. Thus, Bangalore have not let the run-rate down alarmingly at any point. Such has been the brilliance up top that AB de Villiers has not been required to go big.
Hyderabad have to pull the rabbit out of the hat with both bat and ball. On the current form, a good batting Powerplay is the only phase where they seem to ace Bangalore. Will laying all eggs in one basket work for them? We will have to find out.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Bangalore have played as a 10-man team plus Daniel Christian who is yet to have a defined role. He has 4 runs in five innings alongside bowling 10 overs in six matches. However, with Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed responding to their bowling duties, Kohli appears to enjoy an extra seam bowling option in Christian. We can see him at number three again if the openers flourish. Hence, Christian might keep his place ahead of specialists like Tim David, Wanindu Hasaranga and Dushmantha Chameera.
Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, KS Bharat (wk), Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Shahbaz Ahmed, Daniel Christian, Harshal Patel, George Garton, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Its tough to predict the XI for a side in Hyderabad’s position. The overseas personnel is expected to be the same but the Indian talent boils down to who is attracting the coaches in the net sessions.
Jason Roy, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Priyam Garg, Abhishek Sharma, Abdul Samad, Jason Holder, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul, Umran Malik