IPL 2018 Preview: Pressure on Royal Challengers Bangalore as Sunrisers Hyderabad look to regain momentum

Ashish Peter 16/05/2018
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Kohli's men need to win at all cost. Image - @RCBTweets.

Thursday’s IPL clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad will be crucial to both sides for contrasting reasons.

For league-leaders Sunrisers, it will be an opportunity to fine-tune their preparations for the playoffs for which they have already qualified. With 18 points from 12 matches, Kane Williamson’s men are bound to finish among the top two teams, which means that they will get two bites of the cherry if needed to make it to the summit clash.

Royal Challengers, on the other hand, are in a five-way race for the two spots in the eliminator and need to win both their remaining fixtures to stand a chance.

MOMENTUM WITH BANGALORE

Virat Kohli’s men are still languishing in the second-last spot in the league table but they will be the in-form side when they take the field against the Sunrisers. The Royal Challengers have won their last two matches in impressive style with Kohli and AB de Villiers firing on all cylinders.

And although Hyderabad have been the team of the tournament so far, their run of five successive wins was brought to a grinding half by Chennai Super Kings, the team they will in all probability face in the first Qualifier in the playoffs.

SKIPPERS LEADING THE WAY

Both sides have skippers who have led the way with the bat. For Bangalore, Kohli has been the standout batsman once again after notching up 511 runs so far at an average of 57.11.

Williamson’s maiden stint as Sunrisers skipper has been equally impressive, if not more. While his tactical acumen has been superb, his form with the bat has been inspiring as well with 544 runs in 12 matches at an astonishing average of 60.44.

Both the captains will be key for their respective sides once again at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru come Thursday.

LIKELY LINE-UPS

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Moeen Ali, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Khan, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad: Shikhar Dhawan, Alex Hales, Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Deepak Hooda, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma

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IPL 2018 Fantasy: Alternatives for Kings XI's doubtful Mujeeb ur Rahman for Mumbai Indians clash

Sudhir Gupta 16/05/2018
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Punjab will be hoping Mujeeb regains his fitness. Image: BCCI.

Kings XI Punjab are hoping ace spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman is declared fit for their crucial match against Mumbai Indians in the IPL on Wednesday.

The Afghan spinner hurt his bowling hand during the match against Kolkata Knight Riders and subsequently missed the heavy defeat against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In that match, Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis played in Mujeeb’s place. Even though Stoinis has not set the stage on fire with the bat or ball, Kings XI don’t have many overseas bowling options to chose from as Andrew Tye is already in the XI. If Mujeeb is unfit for Wednesday’s match, Stoinis will most likely retain his place.

A good Fantasy Team option is Mitchell McClenaghan, if you don’t already have him. The Mumbai Indians left-arm pacer has picked up 12 wickets from 10 games and went for seven an over in the previous match.

Ben Cutting is an under-rated option – in the mould of Stoinis. Even though he is not getting to bowl many overs, his batting is effective.

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IPL 2018 Transfer Window: Why the idea flopped this season and how to make it better

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The IPL transfer window failed to find any takers. Image: BCCI.

The IPL mid season transfer window has come and gone without even a hint of a possible movement of players in IPL 2018.

The decision to open up a transfer window in the middle of the tournament was made in order to add another dimension to the tournament and make things interesting during the middle of the nearly two-month long event.

The window was open from April 29 to May 10. The idea was that by that time most teams would have known what the core of their side was and also identified the players surplus to their requirements. Also, players warming the bench could get an opportunity to get game time.

However, the response has been poor to the extent of being non-existent. While there was bound to be some apprehension as it was the first time something like his was being tried in the IPL, the total radio silence over the transfer window has been astonishing.

Here are the main reasons why the idea failed to take off.

Limited scope

From the outset, it became clear franchises would get only a small pool of players to choose from. The rules stipulated that only those who played less than two matches at the half-way mark of the tournament could be traded. That meant not a single star India cricketer was eligible for transfer, leaving the teams to choose from a handful of foreign names like Ish Sodhi and a bunch of uncapped players.

Need for secrecy

According to a report in Mid Day, one of the reasons why franchises did not show any inclination to trade even uncapped players is because they feared team secrets could be revealed and that would affect their chances during the business end of the tournament.

The report quoted a franchise official as saying that “franchise may be reluctant to release the player to another franchise when technically only eight games are remaining in the league stage.”

Teams already proactive

Over the years, franchises know how to maximise their pool of players. Most teams start the tournament with a squad size ranging from 19 to 25 players. By the time the tournament gathers pace, franchises identify the players – especially the uncapped or local players – who are surplus to their requirements and release them, sometimes as early as the third week, to save on costs.

THE WAY FORWARD

Put all players in the pool

If every player is eligible for a transfer, that would make things interesting. Franchises might still be worried about teams secrets but there could be the possibility of a team that is nearly out of contention trading a big player to a team still in the race. Also, players who are not being utilised properly by their franchise would be inclined to go to a team where they will be guaranteed proper exposure.

Keep it open throughout the IPL

Since the IPL itself is a little under two months long and matches are played daily, team requirements change in a matter of days. What a team requires in the second week is completely different to what it needs after the fourth. If the transfer window remains open throughout, or at least up to the playoffs, then franchises will continue to show interest in the idea.

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