Former champion Sunrisers Hyderabad, which has slipped down to the stage of being ‘spoilers’, will take on a confident Royal Challengers Bangalore in its last IPL league match at home at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
The Royal Challengers, with the inspirational presence of Virat Kohli and led by the lead scorer in this edition, Faf du Plessis, should be hoping to move one step closer with a win to making it to the next phase with 12 points from 12 games. The home team is in the ninth position of the 10-team league with eight points from an equal number of matches.
It will be interesting to see how the motivation levels of the Sunrisers will be after what has been a thoroughly disappointing season, including five losses from six games at home. Somehow, the team seemed to have mastered the art of losing games from winning situations.
In this backdrop, for the Sunrisers, the match against the Royal Challengers tomorrow can be a huge opportunity to restore pride and provide some cheer for their die-hard fans who have been so vociferously supporting it right through.
In batting, except for Heinrich Klaasen, there is nothing much to rave about Sunrisers’ batting, as the other big guns, including captain Aiden Markram, rarely fired at the top to ensure the desired cushion for the untiring bowlers led by the experienced Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who in the last game against Gujarat Giants picked up his second five-wicket haul in the IPL. Even though the few combinations that were tried have failed so far, head coach Brian Lara should hope for an improved performance.
On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bangalore has a formidable batting line-up with du Plessis, Kohli, and Glen Maxwell doing most of the scoring, and the bowling attack, led by Hyderabadi pacer Mohammed Siraj, who got splendid support from Wayne Parnell in the previous game against Rajasthan Royals, can test the best of the batters.
Given the buzz and excitement around Kohli, with tickets sold out for the game, it is obvious that he will be the biggest attraction even as the teams with contrasting objectives clash under the lights.
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