MUMBAI: Umran Malik's raw pace and Bhuvneshwar Kumar's consistency will be put to test against Dinesh Karthik's explosive batting and the finesse of Faf du Plessis when Sunrisers Hyderabad clash with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, here on Saturday.
Malik has caught everyone's attention with his fiery deliveries this season. His tearway pace has even troubled established batters such as Shreyas Iyer. Alongside senior teammate Bhuvneshwar, the 22-year-old formed a match-winning partnership to defeat Punjab Kings by seven wickets in their previous outing.
Sunrisers, who are targeting a top-4 position, also have yorker-specialist T Natarajan and South African Marco Jansen in their ranks. Jansen has also been able to tease batters with his angles and variations. But the seasoned Du Plessis and Karthik have pummelled the best in the business.
The new RCB skipper roared back to form with a fine 96 as he anchored his team's innings after the top order once again collapsed against Lucknow Super Giants. However, the veteran South African batter missed out on a much deserved maiden IPL hundred in the 18-run win on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Karthik is enjoying one of his best seasons in the league. The wicketkeeper batter has taken the center stage with his heroics for RCB. With scores of 32 not out, 14 not out, 44 not out, 7 not out, 34, 66 not out, and 13 not out in seven innings, Karthik has seemingly been the best finisher this season.
But apart from the duo, the RCB batters will have their task cut out against Sunrisers, who have momentum on their side after winning four games on the trot. All eyes will once again be on Virat Kohli, who would be eager to get out of the rut of low scores.
Opener Anuj Rawat, who apart from a 66 against Mumbai Indians, has failed to capitalize on the opportunity provided to him, S Prabhudessai and Glenn Maxwell too will be hoping to provide substantial contributions with the bat.
Their bowling unit, however, is their strong suite, which was not the case in the previous seasons.
Josh Hazlewood has quickly become an irreplaceable piece in the RCB setup. The Australian quick has managed to dominate opposition batters with his consistent line and lengths.
In Hazlewood, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, and Wanindu Hasarnaga, RCB have four match-winners, while Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed have also played their part well. They will be up against an SRH batting unit where every batter has taken the responsibility to take their side over the line. Promoting Abhishek Sharma to the opener's spot has done wonders for the youngster, who has been fabulous at the top, providing SRH aggressive starts.
Skipper Kane Williamson is also back among runs while Rahul Tripathi has shown he too can win matches with the bat when he struck a 37-ball 71 against KKR.
And if the top order fails, the duo of South African Aiden Markaram and swashbuckling Nicholas Pooran are there to finish off matches or set huge targets.
A win for Sunrisers will elevate them to the top-4 while a victory for RCB will help them grab the top spot. Teams (from): Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson, Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nicholos Pooran, Abdul Samad, Priyam Garg, Vishnu Vinod, Glenn Phillips, R Samarth, Shashank Singh, Washington Sundar, Romario Shepherd, Marco Jansen, J Suchith, Shreyas Gopal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sean Abbott, Kartik Tyagi, Saurabh Tiwary, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Umran Malik, T Natarajan.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, Faf du Plessis, Harshal Patel, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dinesh Karthik, Josh Hazlewood, Shahbaz Ahmed, Anuj Rawat, Akash Deep, Mahipal Lomror, Finn Allen, Sherfane Rutherford, Jason Behrendorff, Suyash Prabhudesai, Chama Milind, Aneeshwar Gautam, Karn Sharma, David Willey, Rajat Patidar, Siddharth Kaul. The match starts at 7:30 pm.