Chennai Super Kings have made Royal Challengers Bangalore's life slightly easier after they defeated Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday. The victory also meant that Sunrisers Hyderabad now have a serious chance of making it to the playoffs of the Indian Premier League 2020. With 14 points to their name, all Bangalore have to do is win one of their remaining two encounters to make it to the last four. The Virat Kohli-led side would look to seal the deal in this very match rather than leaving it for later.
A win here would also solidify RCB's chances of the coveted top-two finish, but they will be up against a spirited Hyderabad side who are coming into this match on the back of a thumping win over Delhi Capitals. Hyderabad (+0.396) have the second-best NRR after Mumbai Indians (+1.186) and if they can win both of their remaining matches and get "a result" in their favour, David Warner's Orange Army would be through to the playoffs. However, SRH are battling injuries and that could force them to change the winning combination.
ABD CAN'T DO IT EVERY SINGLE TIME
It's no secret that Bangalore have struggled big time in the middle overs (7-15) this season. They have scored runs at just 6.9 in that phase, which is the lowest amongst all eight teams. The likes of Kohli (109.2), AB de Villiers (107.3), Washington Sundar (100), Shivam Dube (122.9) and Gurkeerat Singh (83.3) have all struggled to score freely and something similar happened against Mumbai after the young opening duo of Josh Philippe and Devdutt Padikkal got Bangalore off to a rapid start. The two added 71 runs in 7.5 overs, but in the next 12.2 overs, RCB could only manage 93.
Padikkal did the majority of scoring in the middle overs but Bangalore kept losing wickets at regular intervals and fell at least 20-25 runs short. Kohli in particular has scored only 25.6 percent of his runs in the middle overs via boundaries, which is the lowest amongst batsmen who have faced at least 100 deliveries in that phase this season. However, that's not the only problem Bangalore have.
RCB rely heavily on de Villiers in the last few overs. The wicketkeeper-batsman has a strike rate of over 200 in the seven encounters Bangalore have won this season, which drops down to 120.8 in the five games that they have lost. Kohli is averaging 53 this season but the batting maestro has looked far from his best. In the matches de Villiers hasn't fired, the other middle-order batsmen have failed to do the job. RCB have a ferocious hitter in Chris Morris, who has only batted thrice, and it won't be a bad idea to use him as a floater.
SRH MIGHT HAVE TO MAKE FORCEFUL CHANGES
Playing only his second match of the season, Wriddhiman Saha set the stage on fire against Delhi. The wicketkeeper-batsman crafted a classy 45-ball 87 up the order and played a huge role in Hyderabad's 88-run victory. The SRH team management took the massive call of dropping Jonny Bairstow and playing Jason Holder to strengthen their middle-order and the move paid off as it allows Warner and Saha to go crazy from the word go. The two put on 107 runs in less than 10 overs and helped Hyderabad amass 219/2 in their 20 overs.
With Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson and Holder to follow, Warner played with absolute freedom and was at his brutal best against Delhi. Then the likes of Rashid Khan, Sandeep Sharma and T Natarajan killed the game in the second innings and it felt like SRH have finally come up with a winning formula. Just when things began falling into place, Saha suffered a groin injury and didn't come out to keep wicket. Vijay Shankar, who has been bowling well of late, then pulled his hamstring while bowling and couldn't complete his second over.
Warner later said that Saha's injury is “not serious” but Hyderabad have already been consulted by the BCCI medical team who have told them to take a cautious approach as the wicketkeeper-batsman is Australia-bound after the tournament. SRH will now once again have to go back to their old combination and bring in Bairstow, Abhishek Sharma and Priyam Garg. If they go with Bairstow, Holder will have to sit out. They have Shreevats Goswami in their squad but it's highly unlikely they would go with him. They could also try Virat Singh ahead of Garg.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Josh Philippe, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Dale Steyn/Isuru Udana, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (c), Wriddhiman Saha/Shreevats Goswami/Jonny Bairstow (wk), Manish Pandey, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar/Abhishek Sharma, Jason Holder/Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad, Rashid Khan, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sandeep Sharma, T Natarajan.