RCB look to spoil SRH party

Royal Challengers Bangalore's wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel walks in for a practice session on Friday. DH Photo/ Krishnakumar P S

As curtains fall on their underwhelming season, Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to bid adieu to their supporters this season with a consolation win.   

Eliminated teams possess the threat of being party poopers to those battling it out to progress. On Saturday here at the Chinnaswamy stadium, the Challengers could stop Sunrisers Hyderabad– the team that denied Virat Kohli’s men their maiden title in 2016 – from entering the playoffs.

The Sunrisers, who suffered a heart-break on Thursday at the Wankhede stadium against three-time champions Mumbai, are in a do or die situation. The Kane Williamson-led side are lying fourth in the table with 12 points from 13 games. A healthy run-rate of +0.653 means Hyderabad can be the fourth team to qualify if they just win, irrespective of the victory margin.

“We are going into tomorrow’s game wanting to win it. But look it’s not easy. We are missing three to four players now. I think one of the toughest things we have had to deal with this season is that our international fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile never arrived. So that’s been quite tough to deal with,” RCB coach Gary Kirsten said here at the pre-match press conference on Friday.

RCB will miss Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who produced a reasonable show with the bowl this season. The hosts, who could experiment with their playing XI, continue to suffer from familiar problems. Even in a game as short as a five-overs-a-side affair against Rajasthan here on Tuesday, RCB crumbled after the fall of their two pillars – Kohli and AB de Villiers. So mediocre has been RCB’s bowling attack that it has snatched defeats from the jaws of victory on more than one occasion.  

For Sunrisers, with the highly successful opening pair of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow absent, the new combination of Wriddhiman Saha and Martin Guptill has a huge task at hand. Manish Pandey’s late resurgence, after being promoted to No. 3 position, has come as a welcome relief for Sunrisers. The stylish Karnataka batsman’s familiarity with conditions could prove useful for the visitors in the crucial encounter.  

Hyderabad’s another concern is their captain Kane Williamson’s wretched run. From seven games, Williamson’s highest knock has been 14. After having amassed 735 runs to top the charts last year, the Kiwi skipper has been all at sea this time. Hyderabad would also want their lower middle-order, which includes Vijay Shankar, to take more responsibility.

RCB skipper Kohli this season has stressed on the importance of enjoying the game. With nothing to lose, the Challengers would be looking to play with a free mind and end their campaign on a high.

 

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