Batting stalwarts Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson's woeful form will be in focus when Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad meet in a return IPL fixture at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai, on Sunday.
Both Kohli and Williamson are struggling for runs this season. While the Indian has scored just 216 runs in 11 games, at an average of 21.60, the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain has 199 from 10 matches, at an average of 22.11.
The two batting stars have failed to live up to the high standards they are known to set for themselves and their teams will be hoping they snap the wretched run and provide decisive contributions.
Kohli showed glimpses of returning to form with a fifty against Gujarat Titans, but had a howler in the victory over Chennai Super Kings in the previous game. After hitting three boundaries and a six, the former RCB skipper found it hard to hit big shots and relied on singles, which eventually led to the run-out of teammate Glenn Maxwell. Kohli could score just a 33-ball 30.
Williamson is a consistent run-scorer who relies on timing and placement of the ball. However, he has failed to convert starts into big scores. The Kiwi's strike rate is a dismal 96.13. and he, perhaps, needs to be more aggressive in his approach.
After a five-match winning streak, the Sunrisers slumped to three defeats on the trot due to a variety of reasons, including injuries to their frontline bowlers. They are placed sixth on the 10-team points' table.
Sunrisers Hyderabad’s main spinner Washington Sundar injured his bowling hand again, while death over specialist T Natarajan, the side's highest wicket-taker, also picked up a niggle in the loss to CSK. The duo subsequently missed the match against Delhi Capitals and the bowling unit struggled in their absence, going for over 200 runs.
It is to be seen if the two return for the game on Sunday.
Marco Jansen was dropped from the side, but Tom Moody will be tempted to bring back the South African given that he was the wrecker-in-chief against RCB last time.
Pace sensation Umran Malik was pummeled into submission by the Delhi batters and the youngster will want to work on developing some variations rather than cranking up the pace every time he is hit for runs.
Kartik Tyagi and Shreyas Gopal also need to get their act together.
With the bat, Abhishek Sharma has given SRH solid starts but the youngster needs to take his innings deep rather than play a flash in the pan sort of knocks.
Nicholas Pooran was brilliant in the past couple of games, showing that he can finish off matches with a little assistance from the top order.
Incidentally, SRH's last victory was against RCB, when they bundled out the Faf du Plessis-led side for 68 in 16.1 overs and hit up the required runs in just eight overs to win by nine wickets. The Orange Army will hope the team can fashion a similar result again.
For RCB, the bowlers did the trick against CSK. In Josh Hazlewood, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj and Wanindu Hasarnaga, RCB have four match-winners, while Glenn Maxwell and Shahbaz Ahmed have also played their part well.
While the focus will be on Kohli, RCB have also power-hitters in captain Du Plessis, Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik and Shahbaaz Ahmed, who can be destructive on their day if they fire in unison.
With the winning momentum on their side the Royal Challengers will be hoping to extract sweet revenge.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Faf du Plessis (Captain), Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Mohammed Siraj, 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.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: Kane Williamson (Captain), Abhishek Sharma, Rahul Tripathi, Aiden Markram, Nicholas Pooran, Abdul Samad, Priyam Garg, Vishnu Vinod, Glenn Phillips, R Samarth, Shashank Singh, Romario Shepherd, Marco Jansen, J Suchith, Shreyas Gopal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sean Abbott, Kartik Tyagi, Saurabh Tiwary, Fazalhaq Farooqi, Umran Malik, T Natarajan.
Match starts: 3.30 PM.