IPL 2017 opener: Upbeat SRH takes on injury-hit RCB

Sunrisers Hyderabad won the title last season because its quality bowling attack was backed by the brilliance of captain David Warner at the top.

Sharp showers forced the ground-staff to cover the pitch as the scheduled practice session of the Sunrisers Hyderabad on the eve of the inaugural match against Royal Challengers Bangalore was cancelled.   -  K. R. Deepak

It will be a clash between two teams with contrasting moods when defending champion and fighting-fit Sunrisers Hyderabad takes on injury-hit Royal Challengers Bangalore in the inaugural match of the 10th Indian Premier League at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday night.

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For RCB, the biggest blows were the injuries to its best batsman and captain Virat Kohli and K.L. Rahul, with the former tipped to miss the early games and the latter completely ruled out of the edition. Flamboyant A.B. de Villiers too is ruled out for the opener.

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So, it will be stressing the obvious that the focus will now shift to the other key players such as Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Tymal Mills, Kedar Jadhav and also giving the free-stroking Mandeep Singh more chances to showcase his skills.

Even in bowling, RCB suffered a massive blow when Aussie speedster Mitchell Starc opted out of the IPL season, leaving a huge gap in the attack. This means, Mills will have to spearhead the attack in which left-armers Aniket Choudhary, S. Aravind and allrounder Pawan Negi have a huge task on their shoulders. Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal can well be the impact player in this department.

On the other hand, the mood is upbeat in the SRH camp as the season opener is in front of a sell-out home crowd.

Sunrisers won the title last season because their quality bowling attack was backed by the brilliance of captain David Warner (848 runs last season) at the top and useful contributions from Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Ben Cutting who played that game-changing cameo in the final.

SRH mentor V.V.S. Laxman says that it is important to get the momentum going and a win in the opener against a formidable RCB will only help the team’s cause.

The left-handed combine of Warner and Dhawan, latter regaining his form in the recent Deodhar Trophy in Visakhapatnam, should look for solid starts. In-form Kane Williamson, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Naman Ojha, Vijay Shankar are all capable of changing the course of the game.

But again, it is in bowling SRH stands apart from the rest. Bangladesh left-arm pacer and one of the stars last season, Mustafizur Rahman, will be joining the team from the second match onwards. The experienced Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, new recruit Chris Jordan can test the best of batsmen on their day.

A line-up which might force new-find and pacer Mohammad Siraj to wait for some time before he makes his IPL debut.

Importantly, SRH has plenty of options in spin department too with the likes of offie Mohammad Nabi, leg-spin duo of Rashid Khan and ageing Pravin Tambe and left-armer Bipul Sharma.