The Great Indian Cricket Festival is slowly entering its business end, and the battle for fourth place only seems to be heating up. The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s comprehensive 8-wicket win over the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) yesterday has blown the race for that final playoff spot wide open.
Tonight, the Rajasthan Royals (RR) take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in a match that will see the winner go up to fifth, and a step closer to the top 4 places. The two teams come into Match 40 of IPL 2020 on the back of contrasting results.
While SRH came up short in a nail-biter and were eventually beaten by KKR in a Super Over, RR systematically took apart a struggling Chennai Super Kings (CSK) outfit. A disciplined effort from the Royals’ bowling unit saw them strangle the CSK batting and restrict them to just 125/5 in their quota of 20 overs.
In response, Jos Buttler took matters into his own hands after a mini batting collapse right at the top. An unbeaten 48-ball 70 saw the wicketkeeper-batsman named the Man of the Match after he and skipper Steve Smith put on an unbroken 98-run partnership to guide the team home.
SRH were not as successful in their last chase, of course. A late flourish from skipper David Warner saw them equal the target set by KKR but not pick up the win. A fantastic Super Over from Lockie Ferguson restricted SRH to just two runs, and KKR chased that down without breaking a sweat.
Having squandered one opportunity to get closer to the top 4, SRH will want to make amends and do all they can to beat RR tonight. Given the high stakes, this RR v SRH game at the Dubai International Stadium may just turn out to be a belter.
IPL 2020: RR v SRH Match Prediction
A rejig in their batting order has worked in multiple ways for the Royals. While Robin Uthappa has seemed more at home while opening the batting, Jos Buttler batting at 5 helped RR recover from an early collapse in their previous game as they chased down CSK’s 125 without too much hassle in the end.
With Steve Smith also scoring a half-century in the game against RCB, the Rajasthan franchise’s batting seems to be coming into their own after what has been a disaster since the first couple of matches. Except for Sanju Samson, of course.
A string of low scores after a promising start to the IPL 2020 season has seen his detractors come out in full voice, and the calls for him to be integrated into the national team are quiet once again. But with Samson, a big innings is never too far away, and on his day, the Kerala wicketkeeper-batsman can be a real match-winner.
The most important cog in the RR wheel when it comes to bowling is Jofra Archer, and his significance in their line-up is brought to the fore by his position on the Purple Cap list.
Currently placed at fifth with 13 wickets to his name, the English pacer will hope for a few wickets against SRH that will help him displace Mohammed Shami from second place. List leader Kagiso Rabada, however, may just be out of reach with 21 scalps.
Having blown hot and cold at the start of the season, SRH have altogether struggled the second half of IPL 2020 so far. They have fallen to three consecutive defeats, including a Super Over heartbreak.
To make things worse, Kane Williamson had to contend with an adductor niggle in their previous game, and could well miss out tonight. The New Zealand skipper can prove to be a big miss for the Sunrisers, given his contributions to the team both at the top of the order and lower down the order.
SRH will probably pin all their hopes on the bowling duo of Rashid Khan and T Natarajan, who have 22 wickets between them. Given the problems that the team have faced in recent games though, the expectations will probably be a bit too high to meet.
The problematic hot and cold returns for SRH may just get worse, and things could continue to remain cold for the team. Given RR’s apparent return to form, Steve Smith’s team may well pick up another win tonight and continue their charge towards the playoff places.
Prediction: RR to win today’s match.
Published 22 Oct 2020, 12:26 IST