The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) kicked off their IPL 2020 campaign with a 10-run victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Match 3 of the tournament, and that set the tone for the rest of their tournament. Life almost comes full circle tonight when RCB take on SRH in Match 52, with a win confirming their progression into the IPL 2020 playoffs.
When these two teams faced each other early in the tournament, it seemed like we were going to be re-acquainted with the same old RCB as fifties from both, a debuting Devdutt Padikkal and AB de Villiers, could only see them get to what looked like a barely respectable 163 in their 20 overs.
While it did look like Jonny Bairstow and Manish Pandey would run away with the match, RCB’s wily leggie Yuzvendra Chahal would pull things back with a flurry of wickets. The RCB bowling would then effect an unprecedented SRH batting collapse, and end up winning the game by 10 runs.
Since then, the Bangalore franchise seem to have gone from strength-to-strength, and currently find themselves second on the IPL 2020 points table. The team in red, however, are yet to book their playoffs spot, and a win tonight could change just that.
SRH, on the other hand, find themselves second from bottom on the table. Yet, somehow they are in with a shot of finishing in the top four. A win tonight would catapult them into fourth place, but a defeat would rule them out of the tournament right away.
With plenty at stake for both teams, we could be in for fireworks in tonight’s RCB v SRH fixture at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, especially given the smaller dimensions of the ground.
IPL 2020: RCB v SRH Match Prediction
Where the Royal Challengers seem to have stumbled in their last two games, SRH may just have rediscovered their mojo in the thumping 88-run defeat of the Delhi Capitals. And strangely enough, it was Wriddhiman Saha who walked away with all the plaudits in that win.
After being dropped for a slow strike rate in the game against the Kolkata Knight Riders earlier in the season, 36-year-old Saha made a triumphant return to the playing XI, scoring an impressive 45-ball 87, as his team set the Capitals a 220-run target that proved to be too big a mountain to climb.
While the likes of T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma and Khaleel Ahmed have all contributed with the ball, it is the 22-year-old Rashid Khan that has stood out for the team. The Afghan leg-spinner has picked up 17 wickets while bowling at an economy rate of just 5 at IPL 2020.
There’s more for SRH to be positive about, going into this fixture against RCB, however. Kane Williamson’s comeback from injury heading into the business end of the tournament, coupled with skipper David Warner’s return to his explosive best, can only bode well for the Hyderabad-based franchise.
As for the red half of this fixture, RCB made three changes going into the previous fixture against the Mumbai Indians, the most notable of the lot being the inclusion of 23-year-old Josh Philippe in place of experienced campaigner, Aaron Finch.
The Aussie youngster put on quite a show alongside Devdutt Padikkal, before being stumped after his back leg wandered out of the crease following a big swing and a miss off Rahul Chahar’s bowling.
Padikkal’s 74 in the game was his fourth half-century of the tournament, and his highest IPL score yet. While these are encouraging signs, the RCB team management would be disappointed with the way the players let it slip from there.
Dale Steyn’s erratic lines and lengths, coupled with the fact that Shivam Dube did not have an impact in the previous game, could see the Moeen Ali-Navdeep Saini duo return to the fold. However, the entire RCB team would have to step up to the plate, if they are to beat a team that mauled a team that looked like runaway leaders in the league at one point of time.
That said, there is no reason to believe that the Virat Kohli-led outfit will not turn up for a game as big as this, given how they have performed throughout the season.
Prediction: RCB to win today’s match.Published 31 Oct 2020, 13:14 IST