Sunrisers quicks a test for RCB's top three

Match facts

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
Start time 2000 local (14.30 GMT)

Shane Watson is all set to make his debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore © Getty Images

Big Picture

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, they have a top three to kill for. They are one of 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 finally 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, on the other hand, have been underwhelming in 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 pacers – 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 such media scrutiny. 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 pacer in the side, Nehra will also have an important mentoring role to play. Prior to India’s match against Bangladesh in the World T20, Nehra had spoken of looking forward to playing in the same team as Mustafizur in the IPL. Now, he will have a chance to pass on a few words of wisdom to the talented youngster.

Team news

Royal Challengers have been dealt a heavy blow by injuries to Mitchell Starc and Samuel Badree. This will make them more reliant on their Indian bowlers, while Adam Milne may also get a game. 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 means that Mustafizur and Boult will be 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 an 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 just four balls to Chris Gayle in the IPL, and dismissed the batsman twice
  • David Warner won the Purple Cap in the last IPL, ending as the tournament’s leading run-getter with 562 runs

Quotes

“I’ve batted all different places for Rajasthan as well. I opened for a period of time, also batted 3 and 4 as well. In the end, I’m very thrilled to be here and happy to fit in wherever required.”
Shane Watson emphasises his versatility and willingness to adapt

Sirish Raghavan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.


Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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