The Sunrisers Hyderabad has its task cut out when it takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday: win and qualify for the playoffs.
Placed on 12 points after 13 matches with a superior net run rate (0.653), a win against out-of-contention Royal Challengers in the final game of the season for both the teams should be enough to seal the last available spot behind Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians.
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The Sunrisers is smarting from the Super Over loss to Mumbai Indians on Thursday and will desperately hope for its top-order to carry forward the good work done by David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.
The last time the two teams played, Bairstow and Warner blasted centuries before the bowlers led by Afghanistan’s Mohammad Nabi cleaned up RCB batting for a thumping 118-run victory. The two have left for their respective national World Cup preparatory camps and Royal Challengers are no longer under pressure to win.
While the bowling looks in good stead, Sunrisers’ success will depend on its batsmen. Only Manish Pandey has lived up to the challenge off late with half-centuries in three of his last four innings. The Karnataka batsman will be relishing the opportunity to play at his home ground.
Skipper Kane Williamson is low on confidence after accumulating only 58 runs in his last seven outings. To the visiting team’s advantage, RCB’s bowling line-up has failed to click in the tournament so far and a batting-friendly Chinnaswamy track may make the task a fair bit easier for the Sunrisers.
“I think one of the toughest things we’ve had to deal with this season is our international fast bowler never arrived (Coulter-Nile), for two years actually. So that’s been quite a tough thing to deal with,” RCB head coach Gary Kirsten said, reflecting back on the season. Dale Steyn, Coulter-Nile’s replacement, suffered a shoulder strain and had to leave after only two matches with RCB.
With the departure of Australian Marcus Stoinis now, Bangalore may give Shimron Hetmyer or Tim Southee one last opportunity to shine for the team.
The host has only pride to play for and will hope to finish with a flourish for its faithful fans, who braved the thundershowers to support the team against Rajasthan Royals earlier this week. “We’re going in tomorrow’s game to want to win it and we’ve picked the team that we think is best suited to win that game,” Kirsten said.