Sunrisers quicks a test for RCB's top three
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Start time 2000 local (14.30 GMT)
On Tuesday, the last two teams yet to join the action in IPL 2016 will battle in Bangalore.
The hosts, Royal Challengers Bangalore, are packed with superstars, and, in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, have a top three to kill for. They are among the pre-tournament favourites, as well as one of the fan favourites. But this was said of Royal Challengers even last year. And the year before that.
Over the last eight years, Royal Challengers have flattered to deceive, and they will be desperate to set the record straight. Having tasted success as India's Test captain, Kohli will no doubt be keen to prove his credentials as a short-form captain, too. If he can sustain his scintillating form with the bat, he will make the team's task significantly simpler.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, for their part, have been underwhelming over the last two seasons. Their batting has relied heavily on the openers, David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, with the middle order failing to pull its weight. Perhaps with this in mind, Sunrisers splurged INR 7 crore on Yuvraj Singh in the February auction.
Ultimately, the contest may well come down to Royal Challengers' batsmen against Sunrisers' bowlers. Sunrisers have an eye-catching line-up of fast bowlers - Mustafizur Rahman and Ashish Nehra join Trent Boult in the left-arm pace department, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Moises Henriques were the team's most successful bowlers last season. Throw in the legspin of Karn Sharma and Sunrisers certainly have the arsenal to test Royal Challengers' explosive line-up.
In the spotlight
Commanding a price tag of INR 9.5 crores, Shane Watson was the most expensive buy in this year's auction. While that comes with its own pressure, Watson is experienced enough to deal with it. Having also just retired from international cricket, Watson may feel a weight off his broad shoulders and play with greater freedom and flair.
Ashish Nehra was India's standout bowler in the World T20, standing up when it counted match after match. As the most experienced seamer in the side, Nehra will also play an important mentoring role. Prior to India's match against Bangladesh in the World T20, Nehra enthused about playing alongside Mustafizur in the IPL. Now, he will have a chance to pass on a few words of wisdom to the talented youngster.
Injuries to Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree have dealt a heavy blow to Royal Challengers leaving them more reliant on Adam Milne and their Indian bowlers. With the release of last year's wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, it will be interesting to see who gets the gloves. De Villiers has shown some reluctance to keep wickets of late, which means that KL Rahul or Kedar Jadhav may get the job.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (probable): 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Mandeep Singh, 5 Shane Watson, 6 Kedar Jadhav/KL Rahul (wk), 7 Stuart Binny, 8 Iqbal Abdulla, 9 Adam Milne, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 S Aravind
Sunrisers are highly likely to pick both Kane Williamson and Henriques, in addition to the captain Warner. This will leave Mustafizur and Boult competing for the last overseas spot. The middle order will be reliant on local talent. Yuvraj will be out of action for two weeks following the foot injury he sustained during the World T20.
Sunrisers Hyderabad (probable): 1 David Warner (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Naman Ojha (wk), 5 T Suman, 6 Ashish Reddy, 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Karn Sharma, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Ashish Nehra
Pitch and conditions
The Chinnaswamy Stadium has small boundaries and has generally featured batting belters in the IPL. A high-scoring encounter can be expected, provided the batsmen oblige.
Stats and trivia
- Karn Sharma has bowled only four balls to Chris Gayle in the IPL, and has dismissed him twice
- David Warner won the Orange Cap in the last IPL, ending the tournament with 562 runs
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Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo