Date and time: September 21, Monday; 19:30 IST
Venue: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Sunrisers Hyderabad, IPL 2020 preview
Royal Challengers Bangalore have, in the words of their captain, put together the “most balanced squad” since finishing as the finalist in 2016 as their quest for a maiden title gets underway against the team they lost to in the final that year.
Speaking to RCB TV, Virat Kohli said: “We’ve got a great balance of experience, the skill required for T20 cricket and the youngsters in the team who are eager to take up the responsibility and look forward to opportunities that we’re going to provide them.
“…that 2016 season which we’ve all loved to be a part of, it was such a memorable season. Since then, to be honest, this is the most balanced I’ve felt about the squad, as a system where we’re heading. It’s been very well taken care of now, it’s up to us to execute those things on the field.”
Two players who could provide stability and depth to their playing XI are Aaron Finch (bought for Rs 4.4 crore) and Chris Morris (bought for Rs 10 crore). Kohli and AB de Villiers are the usual protagonists in a batting line-up which could feature Karnataka opener Devdutt Padikkal.
Bowling has been the greater concern for Bangalore in recent years and they have tried to address it with the acquisitions of Dale Steyn, Kane Richardson and Isuru Udana. Richardson has pulled out of the season as he didn’t want to miss the birth of his first child, with compatriot Adam Zampa replacing him.
Sunrisers Hyderabad have remained consistent since winning the title in 2016 by finishing in the playoff spots in each of the last three seasons, including reaching the final in 2018.
Going into the new season, Sunrisers have their top-order batting sorted. Led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their bowling is in good hands too, with comparatively less reliance on overseas players in the department. Similar to most other franchises, they aren’t short of middle-order batting options either, but how they harness them without upsetting the balance of the line-up remains to be seen.
The quest for the right balance could mean Kane Williamson, who admirably led them in IPL 2018 as stand-in captain after David Warner’s suspension following the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, does not feature in the first-choice XI.
An early-season fixture in the IPL is rarely a must-win—Mumbai Indians have won the title in four of the last seven seasons having lost their first match in each of them—but the rationale is perhaps not true for the likes of RCB. Having won just one of their first seven matches in IPL 2019 and two of their first seven in IPL 2018, Kohli and co. need to start strongly. In Sunrisers, they have a formidable opponent standing in their way.
RCB vs SRH head to head in IPL
This has been an even contest over the years, with Sunrisers Hyderabad leading Royal Challengers Bangalore 7-6 in 13 meetings in the IPL so far.
The teams shared the spoils last year by winning their respective home fixtures.
RCB vs SRH Dubai pitch report and conditions
Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting said of the Dubai pitch: “I think these wickets will probably be on the slower side but will offer a little more bounce. And as the tournament goes on, the wickets will probably change. They might spin a bit more in the back half…”
With the match being played in the evening and with the possibility of dew, teams would want to field first and take advantage of the dewy conditions later.
Dubai weather forecast for September 21
A maximum of 37-degree Celsius is forecast for Monday, with the temperature dropping to 28-degree Celsius in the evening.
The high humidity, at 71 per cent, won’t make the conditions any easier for the players.
IPL 2020: RCB vs SRH playing 11, fantasy XI
Key selection calls for Bangalore: Parthiv Patel or Devdutt Padikkal; Dale Steyn or Adam Zampa
IPL 2019 was Parthiv Patel’s second-most productive season with the bat, producing 373 runs at a strike of 139.17, also his second-highest in the tournament. Patel, it’s worth remembering, is the only specialist wicketkeeper in the squad. Karnataka’s Padikkal had a prolific 2019-20 domestic season, helping his state complete the Vijay Hazare Trophy-Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy double. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament, he forged a destructive opening partnership with KL Rahul, going on to make 580 runs and showcasing his big-hitting ability with 33 sixes, 11 more than the next-highest in the competition.
The other major selection is picking between Steyn and Zampa for the overseas specialist bowling slot. The nature of the pitch could dictate this selection, though Zampa’s current bowling form for Australia could get him the nod.
Probable Royal Challengers Bangalore playing 11: 1) Virat Kohli (c), 2 Aaron Finch, 3 Parthiv Patel/Devdutt Padikkal, 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Shivam Dube, 6 Washington Sundar, 7 Chris Morris, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Adam Zampa/Dale Steyn
Key selection call for Sunrisers Hyderabad: Mohammad Nabi or Mitchell Marsh
Similar to RCB, Sunrisers are likely to decide on their No. 6 after taking a closer look at the pitch on match eve. All-rounders Nabi and Marsh have been in action recently, in the CPL and for Australia against England respectively, and may be expected to play the dual role of a finisher and the sixth bowler.
Probable Sunrisers Hyderabad playing 11: 1) David Warner (c), 2 Jonny Bairstow, 3 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 4 Manish Pandey, 5 Vijay Shankar, 6 Mohammad Nabi/Mitchell Marsh, 7 Rashid Khan, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Khaleel Ahmed, 10 Siddarth Kaul, 11 Shahbaz Nadeem
The powerplay overs could hold the key to the result of the match.
When Sunrisers bat, the belligerence of Warner and Bairstow at the top of the order is potentially match-changing. At the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad, the pair recorded the highest first-wicket partnership in the IPL (185) when the teams met last season. They will be aggressive and aim to maximise the powerplay restrictions, so the onus will be on the RCB bowlers to combat their approach and deliver an early breakthrough.
On the flip side, when RCB bat, denying Sunrisers early wickets will be vital. A good start would give AB de Villiers the freedom to take on the bowlers and not allow the opposition to slip in cheap overs.