RCB look to eclipse Sunrisers

RCB look to eclipse Sunrisers

Sunrisers Hyderabad's Yusuf Pathan (right) with coach Tom Moody (left) and team mentor VVS Laxman during a practice session on the eve of their IPL match against RCB in Bengaluru on Wednesday. DH Photo/ Srikanta Sharma R

The last time Sunrisers Hyderabad clashed with Royal Challengers Bangalore in their own den, they were some distance away from making the play-offs. The Kane Williamson-led side now visit the Garden City for their return match, having ensured themselves the crucial top-two finish in the eight-team Indian Premier League.

After a largely disappointing campaign, Challengers have managed to stitch together two successive wins for the first time this season to keep their thin hopes of making the play-offs alive, and they need no less than a win again on Thursday here at the M Chinnaswamy stadium to remain in contention.

In a season where they have been let down either by bowling, batting or fielding on different occasions, RCB finally seem to be working as a team. The wins against Delhi Daredevils and Kings XI Punjab, orchestrated respectively by batsmen and bowlers, have given them some nice little momentum. Their bowling, which had come under heavy flak for its profligacy, has found its range and rhythm with Umesh Yadav leading the pack in style. The intensity on the field has been high and the batting has clicked well around skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers.

While there are few bowling attacks that would be willing to challenge the combined might of Kohli and de Villiers when in full flow, it’s also the shortcoming of RCB. There has been a heavy reliance on these two batsmen and if they fail to click, their batting appears quite ordinary. They have been badly let down by their Indian batting unit with the likes of Sarfaraz Khan and Manan Vohra doing little worthwhile in the chances they have got.

Mandeep Singh has produced some cameos but he hasn’t made an impact on a match like Sanju Samson has for Rajasthan Royals or Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer have for Delhi Daredevils. Parthiv Patel, who got his chance midway through the season, has blown hot and cold. However, the move to include him in place of Quinton de Kock has lent them some balance, with Moeen Ali providing the all-round option. While the England player is yet to fire with the bat, he has been more than handy with his off-spinners.

With their place among the top two on the table secure, Sunrisers, who strung together a series of wins on the strength of their bowling attack on bowler-friendly tracks, may test their reserves before the play-offs. While it may be tempting to bench a faltering Manish Pandey, they would also be willing to give him the longer rope to find his groove as he is a big-match player.

It’s also a testing time for their bowling unit which has come under some punishment in the last couple of matches on surfaces that haven’t exactly been to their liking. Coach Tom Moody admitted that well as their bowlers have shown adaptability to different conditions, the last two matches against Dehli and Chennai, who put Sunrisers under pressure, were good learning experiences going forward in the league.