They lost two back-to-back games on the trot, yet Royal Challengers Bangalore stand only a win away from the playoffs. Although they need to seal their berth with a win against a confident Sunrisers Hyderabad, who will be heading into the game on the back of a crushing win against Delhi Capitals, at the iconic Sharjah on Saturday.
Chennai Super Kings, who are already out of contention for the playoffs, injected life into the race with a win against Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday. RCB are indeed better off among those in contention presently having won seven of their 12 games to stand second in the list. They now have two more games remaining - against SRH and DC - with a win in anyone to assure them a playoffs berth.
So well placed are they, that even if they lose both the games, they will still be left with 14 games and hence alive in the playoffs race although it will be their NRR that will decide their fate then.
SRH, however, have to win both their matches. They presently stand sixth in the table with five wins from 12 games and need to win both their remaining matches - against RCB and MI - to assure them with 14 points at the end of the league stage.
Just winning both the games might not be enough for SRH. They would be hoping that at least one out of RCB, DC (14 points) and Kings XI Punjab (12 points) don't reach the magic figure of 16.
If that happens, SRH will progress to the playoffs because of a superior NRR than all the teams which can finish on 14 points.
RCB need to regroup as their confidence definitely took a beating after crushing defeats at the hands of MI and CSK. While CSK battered Kohli's men by eight wickets in Dubai, MI defeated RCB by five wickets in their last tie in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday night.
For RCB, batting has been their strength with the likes of Virat Kohli, young inform opener Devdutt Padikkal, AB de Villiers and Aaron Finch doing the job. Young Josh Philippe, who replaced Finch in the last match, scored handy 33 upfront but the team's lower middle-order, which has the likes of Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Gurkeerat Mann needs to take more responsibility.
Their biggest challenge will be to counter Afghanistan spinner Rashid Khan, who remains an unsolved mystery for batsmen in the 2020 IPL season. The pressure he builds with dot balls has helped SRH in a big way.
On the bowling front, RCB has been hit hard by a split webbing of Navdeep Saini, who missed their last game. Dale Steyn, who replaced him, was rusty and leaked runs and is likely to be replaced by Isuru Udana SRH, on the hand, were clinical in their 88-run win over DC and would look to continue in the same vein.
Skipper David Warner (66) and Wridddhiman Saha (87), were a treat to watch in their 107-run opening partnership against DC, while Manish Pandey (44 not out) continues to shine in the middle-order.
Defending the mammoth 219 for 2, Rashid (3/7)-led SRH bowling unit dished out an impressive show to bundle out DC for 131. Besides Rashid, Sandeep Sharma and T Natarajan too were impressive.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Isuru Udana, Moeen Ali, Josh Philippe, Pawan Negi, Pavan Deshpande, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (C), Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Abdul Samad, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Jason Holder, Abhishek Sharma, B Sandeep, Sanjay Yadav, Fabian Allen, Prithvi Raj Yarra, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddharth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, T Natarajan, Basil Thampi.
Match starts at 7.30 PM IST.
(with PTI inputs)