Challengers Bangalore (RCB) playing the Sunrisers Hyderabad back to back. The first encounter, on Sunday (April 7), led to a tense Super Over finish while the second will take place just two days later on Tuesday, leaving the fans of the two franchises with no time to recover from the jitters.
From Hyderabad, the action now shifts to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, a venue that has already hosted a last-ball thriller, when Bangalore prevailed over the Mumbai Indians by two runs on April 4.
The two successive close matches for Bangalore had prompted Moises Henriques, the allrounder, to say, "Hopefully for the fans, we don't keep that up. Hopefully, we can get a couple of wins without making them panic so much."
For Bangalore to win on Tuesday, and win comfortably, they'll need their Plan A to kick in: Chris Gayle firing. There are many who feel, perhaps legitimately, that Bangalore have no Plan B. But then again, there isn't any player quite like Gayle in Twenty20 cricket. The only one who could arguably give Gayle competition as a Twenty20 batsman is AB de Villiers, who is scheduled to arrive in Bangalore on the morning of the match. While de Villiers will be available for selection, rushing him into a match might not be in his or Bangalore's best interests.
If de Villiers does come in, he's likely to replace either Tillakaratne Dilshan or Henriques, with Muttiah Muralitharan providing four tight overs of spin in the middle overs. Given that the Bangalore track had a fair bit for the seamers and that Henriques put in a good performance with both bat and ball against Hyderabad while Dilshan disappointed, the Sri Lankan should be more likely to sit out. Bangalore's bowling has been their Achilles heel, but they were given a boost on the eve of the match, with Zaheer Khan, who had missed the first two matches, declared fit.
Hyderabad are a study in contrast, with an underwhelming top order and a potent bowling attack led by Dale Steyn. Each of Steyn, Ishant Sharma and Amit Mishra have shown good form so far, while Thisara Perera's all-round skills have added a valuable dimension to Hyderabad's balance.
Hyderabad's four overseas players have been Kumar Sangakkara, the captain, Steyn, Perera and Cameron White. White came good in the Super Over against Bangalore and his team will want the confidence gained there to translate into better form.
The Indian batsmen in the side haven't stood out either, with Shikhar Dhawan's absence being felt keenly at the top, but until Dhawan returns, Hyderabad will look to Parthiv Patel to provide brisk starts.
The prospect of a batting-heavy side taking on a bowling-oriented one is always fascinating, and what makes this one more so is the memory of the last match the Hyderabad side, then called Deccan Chargers, played at Bangalore. In IPL 2012, de Villiers unforgettably took Steyn for 23 runs in the 18th over, to deliver an unlikely win for Bangalore. If this match can deliver a moment like that one, then it will quickly take the prime spot in a tournament that has already delivered several memorable finishes.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (capt), Mayank Agarwal, KP Appanna, Arun Karthik (wk), Sheldon Jackson, Murali Kartik, Zaheer Khan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Abhinav Mukund, Karun Nair, Pankaj Singh, Prashanth Parameswaran, Harshal Patel, Cheteshwar Pujara, Sandeep Warrier, RP Singh, Sunny Sohal, J Syed Mohammad, Saurabh Tiwary, Jaidev Unadkat, Saurabh Tiwary, Vinay Kumar, Vijay Zol, Christopher Barnwell, Daniel Christian, AB de Villiers (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Chris Gayle, Moises Henriques, Andrew McDonald, Muttiah Muralitharan, Ravi Rampaul, Daniel Vettori.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kumar Sangakkara (capt, wk), Cameron White, Chris Lynn, Clint McKay, Dale Steyn, Darren Sammy, Nathan McCullum, Quinton de Kock, Thisara Perera, JP Duminy, Akshath Reddy, Amit Mishra, Anand Rajan, Ankit Sharma, Ashish Reddy, Biplab Samantray, Dwarka Ravi Teja, Hanuma Vihari, Ishant Sharma, Karan Sharma, Parthiv Patel, Sachin Rana, Shikhar Dhawan, Sudeep Tyagi, Thalaivan Sargunam, Veer Pratap Singh.
Story first published on: Monday, 08 April 2013 23:12 IST