AB de Villiers was cleaned up by Rashid Khan when the teams last met © AFP
AB de Villiers was cleaned up by Rashid Khan when the teams last met © AFP

Consecutive victories over Delhi Daredevils (DD) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) have revived Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) hopes in VIVO IPL 2018. In yet another do-or-die clash, they face table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in Match 51, at M Chinnawamy Staidum, Bengaluru on Thursday.

RCB will once again have their hopes pinned on skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, two men who have scored nearly half of the team’s runs this season. Kohli has 514 runs from 12 games, whereas de Villiers has 358 runs from 10 games. SRH’s strength lies in their bowling and that’s where they hold the edge. The contest will come down to SRH’s bowling versus de Villiers and Kohli.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar (8 wickets) has been backed up well by Siddarth Kaul (13), Sandeep Sharma (8), Rashid Khan (13) and Shakib-Al-Hasan (12).

RCB bowlers, too, have stepped up in the recent times. The team will rely on the likes of Tim Southee, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. The last time, RCB bowlers did well to restrict SRH in the 140s before being consumed a superior bowling attack.

SRH’s batting is dependent on opener Shikhar Dhawan (369 runs) and skipper Kane Williamson (544 runs). Williamson has been a brilliant leader for SRH and his captaincy has played a pivotal role in ensuring the team a top two finish.

Key players: Williamson (SRH), Dhawan (SRH), Shakib Al Hasan (SRH), Rashid Khan (SRH), Bhuvneshwar (SRH), AB de Villiers (RCB), Virat Kohli (RCB), Yuzendra Chahal (RCB) and Umesh Yadav (RCB).

Key contests: Kohli has been dismissed five times by Sandeep Sharma. The other interesting contest will be between Rashid and de Villiers. The former cleaned up AB in their last encounter.

Having ensured a top two finish, SRH would not mind experimenting with their team, providing the reserves a go.

Likely 11s

Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Likely 11: Virat Kohli (c), Parthiv Patel (wk), AB de Villiers, Sarfraz Khan/Brendon McCullum, Mandeep Singh, Moeen Ali/Washington Sundar, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Likely 11: Alex Hales, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan/Chris Jordan/Carlos Brathwaite, Yusuf Pathan, Sreevats Goswami/Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddarth Kaul/T Natarajan, Sandeep Sharma

Predictions

RCB are still languishing at the second last position on the table, while SRH are on top of the table with 18 points. Head to head, SRH have the upper hand with 7-4 advantage. SRH start favourites and will be not under pressure. RCB, however, have nothing to lose as it’s a must win. If Kohli and AB click, RCB may end up having the last laugh.