After losing their last match, the Royal Challengers need to win every game from here on to qualify for the eliminators. Standing in their way are table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad, who are looking invincible with their bowling. Their batsmen put in good performances as well against Delhi, the only thing that was missing from their lineup.
Despite Kohli’s best efforts, RCB has still not settled on a combination that provides them the best balance, and have suffered as a result of it. SRH can’t seem to put a foot wrong no matter what they do. Can RCB keep their hopes alive, or will SRH continue their golden run?
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Rashid Khan, Ricky Bhui, Deepak Hooda, Siddarth Kaul, T Natarajan, Mohammad Nabi, Basil Thampi, K Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Sachin Baby, Chris Jordan, Tanmay Agarwal, Shreevats Goswami, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Alex Hales.
Where the teams stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB have just not clicked as a unit this season, and AB/Kohli have failed to dig them out of a hole by themselves. McCullum has been in and out of the team with every match seeing a swap of players. Parthiv Patel scored a half-century in his first game of the season as the rest of the batting order collapsed around him. RCB have always prided themselves on their batting, but even that has failed to impress in the absence of Gayle. Not only has Kohli been shuffling players every match, he has obsessively tinkered with everyone’s batting positions, including his own. There is no margin for error now, and the changes have to stop at some point.
The bowling has not fared much better than the batsmen. Umesh Yadav has been brilliant at times, but ordinary in the rest. Chahal has been economical mostly but has failed to take wickets regularly. Southee has been inconsistent too. RCB are lacking a bowler they can rely on to get them wickets in every match, a role Rashid Khan plays for SRH. The problem for Bangalore in both departments is the same, too many changes all the time.
Fantasy Picks: AB and Kohli will walk into any cricket squad. Umesh Yadav and Chahal deserve automatic places too while Parthiv’s good form could also be handy.
The Sunrisers will be a hard team to beat. They have lost just two of their nine games, and have won several matches they seemed doomed to lose. Their bowlers have been simply phenomenal, even though Bhuvi has missed several games so far and their main bowler earlier in the competition, Billy Stanlake, was ruled out of the competition. Rashid Khan is an indispensable part of this setup, wreaking havoc on opposition batsmen. Every bowler has played their part well, and it makes SRH unstoppable.
The batsmen have looked very shaky, but they put in a good performance in the last match. All of them crossed at least 20 and were hitting the ball well. Bringing in Alex Hales is proving to be a great decision after he hit another 45 to justify his place. Williamson has been the one batsman consistently bailing SRH out of trouble as much as he possibly can. Pathan went ballistic at the end with a strike rate of over 200. He and Pandey have looked in good touch in the odd match, but have failed to sustain it. If they manage to do, RCB can only hope for a marginal loss.
Fantasy Picks: Hales, Rashid Khan, Williamson, and Bhuvi are obvious picks from this side. Sandeep Sharma has been phenomenal as well, covering for Bhuvi astonishingly well, while Manish Pandey might be a worthy gamble.
SRH win. Too obvious, but for a reason.
The Sunrisers Hyderabad are expected to romp to an easy win, but could RCB pull off an almighty upset? Let us know in the comments and poll below.