Virat Kohli will begin his quest for an elusive IPL title when perennial under-achievers Royal Challengers Bangalore take on David Warner’s consistent Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening IPL encounter in Dubai on Monday.
Both teams possess dangerous batsmen who can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition but it will be the bowling line-ups that will be keenly watched.
Kohli has always led from the front but he knows his search for a maiden title will remain incomplete if the team doesn’t perform in all departments. The addition of Australian limited overs captain Aaron Finch to the squad gives the star-studded batting line up more firepower. Expectations are also high from highly-rated young opener Devdutt Padikal.
On the other hand, Warner, whose exploits in the IPL include winning the ‘Orange Cap’ thrice and leading his side to a maiden title triumph in 2016, will once again pair up with the dangerous Jonny Bairstow.
The formidable opening duo, that shattered multiple records including the highest opening partnership in IPL history against RCB last season, will hope to emulate the previous edition’s exploits. Sunrisers also have the batting prowess of Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mitchell Marsh and lower down the order, Fabian Allen apart from young Indian players.
Following a nightmarish 2019 season when they finished last, RCB seem to have much better balance but their ability to hit late in the innings is yet to be tested while bowling line-up remains relatively weak.
Sunrisers’ blind spot also lies in the lack of depth in their batting order. The franchise has invested in youngsters like Virat Singh, Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, and Abdul Samad in the hopes that one of them could become the vital cog in the middle order.
A team that is known for its depth and variation in bowling, Sunrisers’ core unit remains unchanged. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the pace department with Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul and Basil Thampi playing secondary roles.
Armed with presence of the top T20 bowler Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan and No 1 all-rounder in the format Mohammad Nabi, who was in a terrific form in the recently-concluded CPL, Sunrisers have one of the best spin bowling attacks in the tournament. They also have left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem.
RCB also boasts of a potent spin unit; leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will again be the key as he has been over the past seasons with Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Adam Zampa and Moeen Ali lending more options.
RCB have also tried to address the issue of their weak death bowling that plagued their campaign last season. The franchise has bought South African bowling all-rounder Chris Morris for big money and hope he can fulfill his potential after all in IPL.
In the coaching staff for both teams are Australians, as Sunrisers have appointed Trevos Baylis, who guided England to their maiden ODI World Cup title last year, as coach, while RCB has placed its faith in Simon Katich to lead them with Mike Hesson overseeing as team director.
Head to head
|Matches||RCB win||SRH wins||Tied||RCB win %||SRH win %|
- RCB captain Kohli needs 88 runs to complete 5500 IPL runs. He is, right now, the leading run-scorer in the history of tournament and can significantly extend his lead over Suresh Raina, who is set to miss the entire campaign.
RCB's squad for IPL 2020
|Virat Kohli||Yuzvendra Chahal||Moeen Ali||Parthiv Patel|
|AB de Villiers||Mohammed Siraj||Pawan Negi||Shahbaz Ahmed|
|Gurkeerat Mann||Umesh Yadav||Shivam Dube||Joshua Philippe|
|Devdutt Padikkal||Navdeep Saini||Washington Sundar|
|Aaron Finch||Adam Zampa||Christopher Morris|
|Dale Steyn||Isuru Udana|
SRH's squad for IPL 2020
|Kane Williamson||Rashid Khan||Vijay Shankar||Jonny Bairstow|
|David Warner||Bhuvneshwar Kumar||Mohammad Nabi||Wriddhiman Saha|
|Manish Pandey||Khaleel Ahmed||Abhishek Sharma||Shreevats Goswami|
|Priyam Garg||Sandeep Sharma||Mitchell Marsh|
|Virat Singh||Siddarth Kaul||Fabian Allen|
|Billy Stanlake||Sandeep Bavanaka|
|T Natarajan||Sanjay Yadav|
|Shahbaz Nadeem||Abdul Samad|
Match starts at 1930 IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar
(With PTI and iplt20.com inputs)