After defending champions Mumbai Indians booked their place in yet another IPL final with a thumping victory over the Delhi Capitals, the Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2020 Eliminator at Abu Dhabi that would see one of the two sides knocked out.
Hyderabad would go into this match in a better frame of mind on two counts. One, they have won three games in a row, including a 10-wicket triumph over MI to seal their play-offs berth. Second, they beat RCB by five wickets the last time these two sides met at IPL 2020.
In complete contrast, Virat Kohli’s RCB go into the Eliminator on a shaky note. They have tasted defeat in their last four IPL 2020 matches, and only got into the top four on the basis of a better net run rate also compared to the Kolkata Knight Riders.
In terms of games between the two sides, SRH have a slender 8-7 lead by virtue of their triumph the last time these sides met.
As SRH and RCB look to keep their IPL 2020 title hopes alive, here are three player battles that can make a significant difference.
1. David Warner vs Mohammed Siraj
After looking slightly out of sorts despite being among the runs at IPL 2020, SRH skipper David Warner has hit peak form just when it mattered. He was the batting star with a cracking 85 not out from 58 balls in the sublime 10-wicket triumph over the Mumbai Indians, which ensured their playoff qualification.
A couple of games earlier, he blazed his way to 66 from 34 balls as SRH thumped the Delhi Capitals by 88 runs. Courtesy his consistent performances, Warner became the first batsman in IPL history to notch up more than 500 runs in six consecutive seasons. The Australian’s rich vein of form doesn’t augur too well for RCB.
To deal with the Warner threat in an apt manner, RCB will have to come up with something special with the ball. And while pacer Mohammed Siraj has not been their most consistent performer during IPL 2020, he has the ability to produce extraordinary performances, particularly if the pitch offers some assistance.
It was at Abu Dhabi that he stunned KKR with sensational figures of 3 for 8, having been almost unplayable on that day. Although he is prone to being expensive as his economy of 8.97 in IPL 2020 demonstrates, he is also a wicket-taker, having claimed nine scalps at an impressive strike rate of 15.44. RCB would be willing to give away a few runs in return for the major scalp of Warner.
2. AB de Villiers vs Rashid Khan
After producing some stunning performances in the first half of IPL 2020, AB de Villiers seems to have lost form in the last few games. The South African legend has registered scores of 39, 15, 24 and 35 in the last four matches. Not only has he failed to convert starts, he hasn’t been at his fluent best either.
It is no coincidence that RCB have all lost their last four IPL 2020 matches in which de Villiers’ spark has been missing. Having said that, the RCB stalwart is a big match player, and would very well be aware of what the team expects of him. After the extended lull, the time has come for de Villiers to live up to his standards again.
For SRH, leg-spinner Rashid Khan has been one of the keys to their IPL 2020 success. He has unsettled a number of renowned batsmen with the numerous tricks up his sleeve, and just doesn’t stop to amaze.
In spite of teams trying to play out the 22-year-old, Khan has often found a way to outfox the batsmen, and pick plenty of wickets during the tournament.
The Afghan spinner will be keen to add to his tally of 19 wickets in the IPL 2020 Eliminator against RCB. If he can find a way past de Villiers, who is an excellent player of spin, Khan would have done half the job.
3. Sandeep Sharma vs Devdutt Padikkal
Although not in the league of Jofra Archer or Kagiso Rabada, SRH medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma has been highly effective in some match-winning performances during IPL 2020. Lacking in pace in comparison to the aforementioned names, Sharma has made up for it with his accuracy and variations, smartly enticing the batsmen into complacency.
With nine wickets in his last four matches, including a memorable 3 for 34 against Mumbai, Sharma will go into the IPL 2020 Eliminator high on confidence. With T. Natarajan losing his rhythm of late, Sharma will be expected to lead the pace attack once again in a must-win encounter against RCB.
At the top of the innings, 27-year-old Sharma will be up against young Devdutt Padikkal, who has been the find of the IPL 2020 season for RCB. Although playing in only his first season, the 20-year-old has performed like an IPL veteran. Displaying immense confidence in his own ability, Padikkal has amassed 472 runs so far at a strike rate of 126.54 with five impressive fifties.
Even as his opening partners have struggled, Padikkal has taken it upon himself to give the team flying starts in the power play, and has succeeded more often than not. Knowing the importance of Padikkal to RCB’s fortunes, Sharma will want to knock the young opener over cheaply.
Published 06 Nov 2020, 12:30 IST