Yuzvendra Chahal and Virat Kohli of Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrate the fall of wicket during their IPL match. Courtesy: IPL Website
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to boost their chances of finishing in the top two with a victory over a hapless Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Bangalore are at the third spot in the standing, two places adrift of leaders Delhi Capital and one behind Chennai Super Kings.
Bangalore have 16 points in their kitty while Delhi and Chennai have 20 and 18 points respectively.
Though Bangalore have a lot of catching up to do but they still have and outside chance of finishing on the top of the table.
They have two games in their hand while Chennai and Delhi have one each.
Should Chennai and Delhi lose their matches and if Bangalore go on to win both the remaining games then they will be tied on the points with Delhi and run rate will come in to play to decide the leader.
The race has been heated up on the either side of the table as three teams are in contention for the top finish while three teams are battling for the one remaining spot in the playoffs.
Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai all have qualified for the playoffs but they are still fighting for the top two finish.
The team which finishes on the summit can avoid the jitters of going through the gruelling elimination round.
Top two teams will play in the first qualifier and the winner will book a berth in the final.
The teams which finish third and fourth will play in the eliminator.
The winner of the eliminator will play with the loser of the first qualifier in the second qualifier.
The winner of the second qualifier will meet the winner of the first qualifier in the title showdown.
Though Bangalore have qualified and Sunrisers Hyderabad are out of the contention still there is a lot to play for in the match for both the teams.
Bangalore, who have won three matches on the trot to qualify for the playoffs, will look to extend their winning momentum.
Bangalore have shown a remarkable resurgence in the UAE leg of the tournament.
They lost their first two matches in the UAE against Chennai and Kolkata before bouncing back to notch up three victories in a row against Mumbai, Rajasthan and Punjab Kings.
Since Virat Kohli announced relinquishing the Bangalore captaincy after the IPL, he has been playing quite freely and fearlessly.
Kohli is a class act and does not need to prove himself after a fairy tale success at the international stage and in the franchise cricket both over a decade.
Yet since the announcement of his stepping down from the captaincy of India and Bangalore, there is an aggression in his body language as if he is trying to prove a point.
Both Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal have been in tremendous form and are giving a good start to Bangalore almost in every match.
With the likes of Bharath, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, the middle order looks very strong.
Dan Christian and Shahbaz Ahmed can play a few big shots in the death overs to give a finishing touch to the innings.
Padikkal, AB de Villiers, Maxwell and Kohli all are in great form.
They can tear apart even the best bowling line up of the world on a given day.
Mohammed Siraj along with George Garton will spearhead the pace attack.
They will be assisted by Dan Christian and Harshal Patel as the other pacers in the squad.
Christian is a renowned all-rounder who is a T20 specialist and has played in almost all the leagues around the world.
Christians and Harshal will give Kohli more options in the pace bowling. Shabaz Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal will take care of the spin department.
Meanwhile, Hyderabad will play to salvage some pride.
Hyderabad are lying at the bottom of the table with only four points from their 12 matches so far.
They have lost 10 and won just two matches in this edition of the IPL. Hyderabad were hit by many issues on and off the pitch. After a disappointing start to the tournament, they sacked captain David Warner midway.
But the change of the captaincy did not bring any change in the performance and the fortune of the team.
A number of foreign players also pulled out from Hyderabad for the UAE leg of the IPL.
Their most reliable opener England batsman Bairstow refused to come to the UAE because of a six-day quarantine rule.
Their bowler Natrajan also tested positive for corona. Hardly had the dust settled down they got another shock as Shefrane Rutherford, who had replaced Bairstow, had to leave for West Indies to attend the funeral of his father.
By the time they could resolve their issues, it was too late and the damage was done.
Despite being out of the race for the playoff, Hyderabad still can dent the hopes of Bangalore of finishing on the top of the table.
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