Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore have taken contrasting routes to the playoffs. After a lacklustre start, David Warner’s team peaked at the business end of the league phase, registering three back-to-back wins that parachuted them to third spot in the points table.
After four consecutive losses in the league stage, RCB’s campaign has stuttered even though they have sealed fourth spot. In the Eliminator in Abu Dhabi, the loser of which goes home, Virat Kohli’s side will have its task cut out, as SRH are brimming with confidence.
Here are some of the talking points and match-ups ahead of Friday’s contest.
SRH’s belligerent openers:
Bulk of their success has been built upon the rollicking starts provided by their openers. For the first 11 matches, Jonny Bairstow opened proceedings. However, the team management decided to replace the Englishman with Wriddhiman Saha for the sake of balance and solidity in the middle order, by accommodating Kane Williamson and Jason Holder.
The move has paid off, with Saha scoring 87 against Delhi Capitals, 39 against Royal Challengers and an unbeaten 58 against Mumbai Indians, all in must-win games. The Indian wicketkeeper’s belligerence has helped Warner, who has notched up yet another season with a run tally in excess of 500. RCB bowlers would need to stop the marauding SRH openers if they want to stay alive in the tournament.
Chahal vs Rashid:
RCB’s Yuzvendra Chahal (20) has taken the most wickets by a spinner in this edition so far. Rashid, SRH’s talisman, is not far behind with 19 scalps. How these two crafty spinners perform would go a long way in shaping their teams’ fortunes in the Eliminator. Apart from taking key wickets in the middle overs, Rashid keeps a lid on the scoring as well. In fact, the No.1 T20 bowler in the world has been the most economical in the competition, conceding just 5.28 runs per over. Chahal has also relished bowling on the UAE pitches. His strategy of adopting a fullish length and bowling slower through the air has elicited false shots from the batsmen. Needless to say, Chahal vs Rashid will be an intriguing duel.
Chris Morris, the batsman, please stand up:
Morris is anything but a one-dimensional cricketer. As a fast bowler, he can bowl regularly at 140kmph, can take wickets in the Powerplay and restrict batsmen at the end of the innings with searing yorkers and clever variations. Morris is also an excellent fielder and destructive lower-middle-order batsman. Frustratingly, he has hardly done anything substantial with the bat in this tournament. Barring an unbeaten 25 against Kings XI Punjab in Sharjah, he has managed scores of 2,4,3 and 0. His all-round abilities were supposed to lend balance to the RCB outfit, much like Holder has done for SRH in the five games he has played. If Morris gets going with the bat against SRH, Warner may have a big headache.
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