Hampered by injuries to some of their biggest stars, Royal Challengers Bangalore will today face defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad without their captain Virat Kohli in the IPL lung-opener here.
While Kohli has been ruled out because of a shoulder injury, another star in the RCB camp AB de Villiers is nursing a back problem.
They have also lost star batsman KL Rahul for the whole tournament owing to injury. In addition, RCB's young batsman Sarfaraz Khan is unlikely be available for the entire season after hurting himself on the field during a practice match in Bengaluru.
Sarfaraz Khan was was expected to partner Chris Gayle in the absence of Kohli. As Kohli is likely to miss the first few matches in the tournament, the team has named Shane Watson as its captain in the interim.
RCB players who will carry their team on their shoulders:
Chris Gayle: The RCB will heavily bank on big-hitter Chris Gayle in the absence of Kohli. The West Indian, who pulls a huge crowd to the stadium, is capable of destroying any opposition on his day.
Shane Watson: Along with Gayle, Watson will carry a huge burden on his shoulders. Besides scoring runs and taking wickets, he will also have to lead the team.
Kedar Jadhav: A rising Indian star, Jadhav is expected to make a mark as an allrounder in this IPL. He will also have to fill the gap caused by Rahul's absence.
Yuzvendra Chahal: RCB’s bowling will heavily depend on this young Indian bowler. Chahal earned his name after a six-wicket haul against England which helped India clinch the series last year.
Tymal Mills: English paceman Tymal Mills is one of the most expensive buys at the IPL 2017 auction. The RCB would need him to perform well to score a win.
Australian Twenty20 star Travis Head, Indian players Sachin Baby and Mandeep Singh, who have previous experience of playing in the IPL, are also valuable assets in the batting order.
West Indies' Twenty20 specialist leg-spinner Samuel Badree, Kiwi pacer Adam Milne and left-arm seamer Aniket Choudhary add to the bowling strength of the Bangalore outfit. Indian players like Sreenath Aravind, Stuart Binny and all-rounder Pawan Negi are also expected to help the team's cause.
Players to look out for in Sunrisers Hyderabad team:
David Warner: Sunrisers Hyderabad are determined to repeat last year's magic to grab the title and it would need its skipper David Warner, who led from the front last season, to spill magic again. Hyderabad's batting heavily relies on Warner, one of the most formidable batsmen in IPL and the world.
Shikhar Dhawan: Dhawan is keen to make a mark after losing his berth in the Indian side. He was impressive in the recent Deodhar Trophy and would look to carry the good form into the IPL.
Yuvraj Singh: Seasoned campaigner Yuvraj Singh also adds to the batting strength of SRH, but the much-talked about middle-order batsman needs to raise the bar, especially in the event of Warner and Dhawan falling short of expectations.
Moises Henriques, Kane Williamson, Naman Ojha, Deepak Hooda, and Vijay Shankar are no pushovers and make for a solid line-up.
The SRH bowling is one of the best in IPL. Though the team would be deprived of the services of Mustafizzur Rahman for tomorrow's match, the seasoned Ashish Nehra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Barinder Sran are quality bowlers, who can turn the match on any given day.
The team has acquired Rashid Khan, a unique leg-spinner from Afghanistan, this year to add to its bowling strength.
All-rounders like Yuvraj Singh, Henriques, Ben Cutting, Mohammad Nabi and Chris Jordan would also be crucial to the team's fortunes.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Shane Watson (C), Sreenath Aravind, Avesh Khan, Samuel Badree, Stuart Binny, Yuzvendra Chahal, Aniket Choudhary, Praveen Dubey, Chris Gayle, Travis Head, Iqbal Abdulla, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Tymal Mills, Adam Milne, Pawan Negi, Harshal Patel, Sachin Baby, Tabraiz Shamsi, and Billy Stanlake.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Tanmay Agarwal, Ricky Bhui, Bipul Sharma, Ben Cutting, Shikhar Dhawan, Eklavya Dwivedi, Moises Henriques, Deepak Hooda, Chris Jordan, Siddharth Kaul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ben Laughlin, Abhimanyu Mithun, Mohammad Nabi, Mohammed Siraj, Mustafizur Rahman, Ashish Nehra, Naman Ojha (wk), Rashid Khan, Vijay Shankar, Barinder Sran, Pravin Tambe, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh.