BENGALURU : Can it get any more interesting? Four teams — Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals — are in the hunt for the fourth playoff spot. Royal Challengers Bangalore are the only team to be out of the running, but they could play a pivotal role in the entire qualification scenario as they host Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Saturday.
After losing first six, Bangalore have lost just once in last five, though their last game was a no result due to rain. Still, they have the momentum. “We started to get things going in the second half, but unfortunately, in IPL if you have a bad start you’re always going to be struggling. It’s been a disappointing season,” said Gary Kirsten, Bangalore coach.
If Bangalore have done well of late, Hyderabad have been the opposite. After starting the season with three wins in first four, they have just won one of their last four. Despite these losses, the ball is in their court as a win against Bangalore will only enhance their playoff hopes with 14 points.
In order to avoid complications, Hyderabad will be aiming to beat Bangalore comprehensively. Without big-hitters like Jonny Bairstow (last played on April 23) and David Warner (April 29), they still have the required ammunition with Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Vijay Shankar, Manish Pandey in their ranks.
The quartet, irrespective of their form, will be looking to step up and make hay at Chinnaswamy surface which has assisted batsmen this term. Of all the players, Pandey’s form (251 in last four matches) is a good sign and the Karnataka captain’s knowledge of the conditions should come in handy.
AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Parthiv Patel are some of the Bangalore players who will pose a threat to Hyderabad. With Kohli and De Villiers having toiled against quality wrist-spinners, Rashid Khan could prove to be Williamson’s trump card. In the absence of Moeen Ali and Marcus Stoinis, the hosts look a weakened side. However, Kirsten still has faith in the players he’s got. “We want to win and we’ve picked a team that is best suited to win.”
RCB vs SRH Live on Star Sports 2, 8PM
How they can qualify
- SRH: Must beat RCB and see where net run rate takes them. If they lose, they need DC to beat RR and hope that KKR lose to MI
- RR: Must beat DC and hope that SRH lose to RCB and KKR lose to MI
- KKR: Must beat MI. If they don’t, RR & KXIP have to lose & SRH has to lose really big
- KXIP: Need a massive win vs CSK & hope that KKR, SRH, RR lose by big margins