Following the game between Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals, Sunrisers Hyderabad will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the third match of IPL 2020 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
SRH and RCB would go into the opening match of this year’s edition with contrasting fortunes. Ever since Sunrisers made their IPL debut in 2013, they have been among the most impressive sides in the tournament. They emerged as champions in 2016, finished runners-up in 2018 and made the top four last year.
On the other hand, RCB have been ranked 8th, 6th and 8th in the three most recent editions of the IPL. They have had their moments in the past when they were runners-up in 2011 and 2016 but that seems like a distant dream now. RCB will have to completely overhaul their game if they want to be counted among title contenders.
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As SRH and RCB prepare for their face-off, we look at three player battles from the match that could prove decisive.
IPL 2020: Key player battles in SRH vs RCB clash
#1. David Warner vs Washington Sundar
Australian opener David Warner has stamped his authority on the IPL in no uncertain terms. He has scored in excess of 500 runs in every season starting 2014.
Warner led the way from the front with 848 as SRH lifted the crown in 2016. Last year as well, he was in sublime form with 692 runs in 12 games.
The one-year gap owing to the ball-tampering ban had not affected his game one bit. On the contrary, he forged an excellent partnership with Jonny Bairstow, and the duo broke quite a few batting records.
If there is one weakness in Warner’s batting, it is definitely against spin bowling. At times, he has the tendency of failing to read slow bowlers.
Washington Sundar often opens the bowling in the IPL, and the off-spinner enjoys a decent record in the T20 league, with 16 wickets in 21 matches at an economy rate of 7.64. Sundar’s primary job is to keep things quiet. And, if he can frustrate Warner into playing a false stroke, he would have done his job.
#2. Virat Kohli vs Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Like every year, RCB skipper Virat Kohli will be raring to go in this year’s edition as well. He has an amazing IPL record, having amassed 5412 runs in 177 matches at a strike rate of 131.61 with five hundreds.
Kohli would, however, be disappointed with the way the team has performed in the last few seasons and would want his efforts to lead to better results for his team. A repeat of 2016, when Kohli smashed a record 973 runs, would be difficult. Knowing Kohli though, he would be aiming for 1,000 runs in a season.
SRH pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar is someone who has troubled a number of world-class batsmen during his career. He is one of the most successful bowlers in the IPL with 133 wickets at a strike rate of under 20.
Kumar won the Purple Cap in consecutive years -- 2016, 2017 -- with 23 and 26 wickets respectively. His accuracy remains his strength, and he would be keen to put up a solid fight against Kohli.
#3. AB de Villiers vs Rashid Khan
Despite his retirement from international cricket, AB de Villiers remains one of the most dangerous batsmen on the IPL circuit. He can play the most audacious of strokes, even to good balls. Along with Kohli, he has been the backbone of RCB for a few seasons now.
Like Kohli, de Villiers’ record also speaks for itself -- 4395 runs in 154 matches at a strike rate of 151.23 with three hundreds. This season as well, RCB have high hopes from de Villiers.
The former South African batsman is renowned as one of the best players of spin from his country. Thus, his battle with the intelligent Rashid Khan could be enticing.
In recent years, the Afghanistan leg spinner has emerged as a shining light especially on the T20 circuit. He has bamboozled many good batsmen in the BBL and has enjoyed a fruitful IPL career so far -- 55 wickets in 46 matches at a strike rate of under 20.Published 21 Sep 2020, 12:12 IST