Bangalore: The M Chinnaswamy Stadium is where it all started for both teams, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad. When they faced off in what was their tournament opener on April 12, they knew they would meet again soon, in Hyderabad, for the second leg. Neither would have thought at that point they would also meet in the title clash, that too in Bangalore.
David Warner and Virat Kohli
Much water has flowed under the Arabian Sea since then and here we are, two teams with completely opposite strengths, but led by two similarly determined individuals, all set, the rain Gods permitting, to battle it out tonight for the top prize in the Indian Premier League.
The battle is certainly going to be between Hyderabad’s clever bowling and the mighty Bangalore batting, with the hosts starting with the advantage that the conditions here — the normally batting-friendly pitch and shortish boundaries — may well negate the Hyderabad bowling. Then again, with Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in such tremendous form, not to forget the looming presence of Chris Gayle and the class of KL Rahul, does it matter what the bowlers, led by Purple Cap holder Bhuvneshwar Kumar, can come up with? After all Kolkata Knight Riders, perhaps the one side with a better attack, if only for the sheer variety they possess, were tamed in Kolkata. And yes, while April 12 is long gone, it cannot be forgotten that RCB clobbered 227 that night.
Then again, that was the opening game and since than the SRH bowling, always known for its ability to restrict the opposition, has gained ground. To add to that, while it was a near one-man show with the bat in the Qualifier against Gujarat Lions in New Delhi on Friday, David Warner now knows that he’s a got a few other batsmen who can bat around him and at times, without him.
Ironically, it was a left-arm spinner from either side that helped the two sides make their way into the final, that too against the same opponent. If Bipul Sharma eased Warner’s task, Iqbal Abdulla lent De Villiers a good hand against the very same Gujarat Lions. The further irony here is while Sharma will most definitely play, the looming presence of two other left-handers in Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh in the Hyderabad camp, may well see Abdulla sit out — horses for courses being the prevailing buzzword.
For the hosts, who have never won the title, while Hyderabad as a city has won once, the pressure will be on from the expectant home fans, who have moved heaven and earth to get a prized ticket. Used positively, the pressure can be turned into pleasure and that’s something Hyderabad will be wary of.
IPL: RCB vs SRH: Sony Max, Sony ESPN, Sony ESPN HD, Sony Six, & Sony Six HD, 20:00