IPL 2017: Depleted RCB seek revenge in grudge encounter against champions SRH.
The first match of the 2017 Indian Premier League features a blockbuster with defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad taking on Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Uppal on Wednesday.
For Royal Challengers Bangalore, it represents a grudge re-match of the 2016 IPL final where it suffered a loss on the biggest stage of the tournament for the third time.
In that match, skipper David Warner’s attacking fifty and an aggressive 15-ball 39 from Ben Cutting saw SRH reaching 208/7. In response, Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli started in blazing fashion, and at 114/0, the team looked to be on course for a victory.
However, Gayle fell to Cutting for 76 while Kohli was bowled by paceman Barinder Sran for 54. The RCB skipper, who had smashed four centuries in the tournament, ended up with 973 runs in the edition, the most by any batsman in the history of the tournament.
The wickets of Gayle and Kohli allowed SRH to claw back into the contest. SRH maintained the pressure, and in the end, RCB fell short by eight runs and Warner’s team had sealed their maiden IPL title.
In the current edition, the odds are heavily stacked against RCB. They are without their two key players, Kohli and AB de Villiers. The Indian skipper has not recovered from a shoulder injury while de Villiers is recovering from a back injury which forced him to miss a local one-day match in South Africa. To compound RCB’s woes, KL Rahul, who smashed six fifties in seven innings in the just-ended Test series against Australia, will miss the tournament due to a shoulder injury.
Australian all-rounder Shane Watson will lead the side but with only Gayle present as an impact player in the squad, SRH are favorites to get off to a winning start.
SRH a settled side
The defending champions also have a settled squad. The addition of two Afghanistan players, Mohammad Nabi and 18-year-old spin sensation Rashid Khan, gives the team the edge. With the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra and Mustafizur Rahman in the team, the bowling looks in excellent touch. The Bangladesh pacer though will not play in the opener.
Their only area of concern will be the form of Warner, who averaged 24 in the four Tests with just one fifty.
Contests between Sunrisers and RCB have been intense and dramatic. In nine matches, the teams have four wins each. In the first encounter between the two teams in 2013, SRH came out on top in a thrilling super over. However, in the return leg, RCB emerged victorious by seven wickets. In 2014, RCB won the first encounter before SRH bounced back in the second.
In 2015, the see-saw nature of the battle continued. SRH won at the Chinnaswamy stadium while RCB took their revenge in a dramatic last over of a match affected by rain. In 2016, RCB drew first blood by registering a 45-run win before SRH bounced back with a 15-run win in the return leg. They proceeded to hurt Kohli’s team even more by winning the final.
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