The 2016 finalists Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore take on each other in the third game of the season in Dubai. The Kohli-led side looks a lot more balanced as compared to the last couple of seasons, thanks to a couple of inspiring buys. SRH on the other hand continue to be a top-heavy side with a strong bowling attack.

Both sides have some of the very best players of the game and the matchups have been highly intriguing over the years. Here we look at some of the key matchups and tactics ahead of the opening game for both sides:

Rashid’s Threat for RCB Middle Order:

RCB’s biggest cause of concern is wrist spin and one of the best wrist spinners in the tournament Rashid Khan has quite unsurprisingly some very good numbers against the RCB batsmen. Among all the mainstream batsmen for RCB, only Parthiv Patel and Gurkeerat Singh have not been dismissed by Rashid Khan after facing 5 and 7 balls respectively.

vs Rashid Khan since 2017Strike RateBalls per Dismissal
Virat Kohli85.7114.00
AB de Villiers77.784.95
Aaron Finch177.784.95
Moeen Ali169.2313.00
Chris Morris30.0010.00

RCB’s two most dependable batsmen – Kohli and AB de Villiers have been troubled by Rashid in recent times. Finch and Moeen have scored at a brisk pace, but Rashid has got the better of them by picking their wickets in every 4.5 and 13 balls respectively.

[Also read – IPL 2020: RCB Batting Analysis]

A lot will depend on whether they can negate the Rashid threat. Do they really have an answer to him? Does not seem so at the moment, but someone like Kohli is certainly capable of turning it around. They will need Moeen to take the attack to him and look to break his rhythm while Kohli plays the waiting game.

The Powerplay Scare for RCB:

RCB have been troubled in the powerplays the most by SRH, both in terms of run rate as well as dismissal rate. In powerplays since 2018, RCB have scored 1.3 runs less against SRH as compared to other bowling units. But the bigger cause of concern is the arte of dismissal. They lose a wicket every 19.38 runs against SRH in powerplays, as compared to 41.50 against others.

RCB in Powerplays since 2018Runs per OverRuns per Wicket
vs SRH7.4219.78
vs Other8.7141.50

All three of RCB’s potential top 3 for the game have struggled against the SRH opening bowlers; Sandeep Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Here we look at the numbers since 2017:

vs Bhuvneshwar and SandeepStrike RateBalls per Dismissal
Aaron Finch57.147.00
Parthiv Patel80.0017.50
Virat Kohli100.0012.50

That Finch is Bhuvneshwar’s bunny is not a hidden fact. And Sandeep has troubled both Parthiv and Virat, with the RCB skipper getting dismissed twice in 15 balls against him.

RCB need a strong and steady powerplay. Padikkal playing the aggressor role with Finch playing second fiddle should be the way to go for RCB. If it works, RCB will be strong favorites right from the beginning. If it doesn’t, the routine follows.

The Chahal Trap for Bairstow?

Yuzvendra Chahal is undoubtedly RCB’s best bet for getting Bairstow out. The wrist-spinner got the better of Bairstow the last time these two sides met. Though the sample space is low, Chahal has shown that he can trouble the English wicket-keeper. Moreover, Baistrow’s weakness against spin is no secret. In IPL, Bairstow scores at a strike rate of 186.02 and gets dismissed once every 18.6 balls against wrist spin.

Balls per DismissalStrike Rate
Bairstow vs Chahal in IPL6.00133.33

What RCB need to do is bring Chahal in early and bowl him in the powerplays. Chahal has an economy rate of 6.39 in powerplays since 2018, which is 1.78 less than other spinners. Though Warner can go after him, it is a risk worth taking to break the opening partnership.

[Also Read – IPL 2020: SRH Batting Analysis]

RCB’s Chance to Strangle at the Death:

Not often we see RCB’s death bowling being their plus point. But with Morris and Saini in the lineup, the Kohli-led side can not ask for a better death bowling pair. Among bowlers who have bowled in death in a minimum of 10 innings since 2016, with more than 50% of their death over deliveries coming in overs 18-20, Saini and Morris have the best Relative Economy (Relative Economy – Economy of a bowler as compared to all other bowlers in the games he has played)

Relative EconomyRelative Strike Rate
Navdeep Saini-2.501.50
Chris Morris-1.590.52

Saini concedes 2.5 runs less than others in death overs as compared to others in the games he has played while Morris has the second best relative economy as he concedes 1.59 runs lesser. Moreover, both of them pick wickets more frequently than others. Saini also leads the charts in terms of dot ball percentage in death overs, with more than 40% of his death over balls being dots.

RCB have therefore a very good chance to strangle SRH’s relatively inexperienced middle order with the two fast and accurate death bowlers. All they need to do is make sure Warner does not stay till the end.

Overall, SRH start as favorites based on recent performances and player matchups. However, with an improved death bowling unit, RCB surely have a side that can better the records. The two major obstacles for them will be Warner, who apparently does not have a weakness against any bowling type in IPL, and Rashid Khan, who has got the better of almost every RCB batsmen so far.