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IPL 10, Match 29: Bangalore vs Hyderabad

Wisden India logo Wisden India 25-04-2017 R Kaushik

What’s the bare minimum you would expect from a Twenty20 side that includes Virat Kohli, Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers? Against the best of attacks, in the most difficult of conditions? That number might vary depending on where your loyalties lie. But, before Sunday night, no one would have zeroed in on 49.

Four years to the day on which Royal Challengers Bangalore posted the highest team total in IPL history, Kohli’s men plunged to a new low at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Blown away by Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Woakes, the eternal bridesmaids run the genuine risk of early elimination from the race for a playoff berth.

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By itself, that is not an unusual place for the Bangalore franchise to find itself in. As recently as last season, they needed to embark on an incredible streak to finish in the top four and make it to the next stage. They managed that in some style and went all the way to the final, only to be stopped at the final hurdle by Sunrisers Hyderabad. But they have never had to fight back from the debilitating low of 49 all out, and the consequent potential damage to morale, confidence and self-belief.

Zaheer Khan gets engaged to actress Sagarika Ghatge

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Zaheer Khan gets engaged with actress Sagarika Ghatge, here are unseen pics: Speaking to Mid-Day, she finally gave a hint about her relationship. The actor said, “Let’s just say I am in a very happy space right now. I have never spoken about my personal relationships. In fact, I have never spoken about anything to the press. Personal space is not for discussion.” (Source: Twitter) Zaheer Khan gets engaged to actress Sagarika Ghatge, here are unseen pics

As such, Tuesday’s (April 25) showdown against the defending champions will be a test of not just the skills, technical and otherwise, of the Bangalore side, but also of that unquantifiable called character. There was a time when Bangalore could guarantee itself a turnaround at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, which they guarded like the unbreachable fortress it had come to resemble. This season, even home comfort has eluded the red-and-black brigade, which has won just one of three matches in its erstwhile bastion.

In light of 49 all out, to say that Bangalore have been let down by their muscular batting is pretty much stating the obvious. Midway through their league campaign that has fetched them just two wins from seven matches, no one has topped 175 runs. Bangalore have managed just five half-centuries all tournament long, and are struggling for the balance in combination that victory inevitably brings with it.

The Chinnaswamy strip used to be a batsman’s delight, and no matter the wealth of batting riches in the opposition, Bangalore always found a way to circumvent that. This year, the pitches have played slower, the bounce has been a little less trustworthy and run-making hasn’t been as straightforward as Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers made it look in times gone by. That said, this strip promises to be more Chinnaswamy than any other thus far. Their bowlers have been pretty good, spearheaded by Yuzvendra Chahal, the wisp of a legspinner, but they have been badly let down by a batting line-up that, when it is good, can be extraordinarily so but also when it is bad, is exceptionally so.

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To make sweeping changes might reek of panic, but Bangalore must reflect on what the roles of Stuart Binny – who bats in the lower middle-order and has bowled just four overs in seven matches – and Mandeep Singh, with 65 runs from six innings, are. S Arvind, who has gone for 8.97 runs per over and has taken only four wickets in 111 deliveries, will also be looking over his shoulder. But Bangalore need more than a change in personnel. They need a change in attitude and mindset. Perhaps the fact that they have been pushed into a corner will free them up and inspire like last year; Kohli, of course, will have it no other way.

Hyderabad are in a far better space though David Warner will be aware of the need to pick up wins on the road. The holders have won each of their four matches at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal but have also lost all three away games, including the last-ball heartbreak in Pune last Saturday. Without setting the tournament alight, Warner and Shikhar Dhawan have fired collectively and individually, and Moises Henriques has held his own at one drop, but beyond the top three, Hyderabad too have struggled for muscle and consistency.

Yuvraj Singh has tapered off after a sparkling first game when he smashed 62 against Bangalore at home. The left-hand talisman missed the Pune defeat through illness but is expected to be available for Tuesday’s game. He has enjoyed success at the Chinnaswamy in the past and should relish even the changed conditions; if the pitch continues to play slow, his left-arm spin too will be handy, though Hyderabad’s bowling stocks are pretty well stacked even otherwise.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the leading wicket-taker this season, has towered head and shoulders above the rest with his control, both with the new ball, which he has got to swing generously, and at the death, when he has delivered yorkers with pin-point accuracy. He has been wonderfully backed up by Rashid Khan, whose legspin and googly have been so mesmeric that it has relegated even Mustafizur Rahman to the sidelines. Bhuvneshwar apart, there is plenty of other home-grown pace bowling talent to pick from: Ashish Nehra, who hasn’t played for a while now, the exciting Mohammad Siraj and Siddarth Kaul.

Hyderabad have won two on the bounce against Bangalore – last year’s final and the first match of this season – and that should at least contribute to feel-good, if nothing else. That said, Kohli’s men will be hugely smarting from their Eden wipe-out and, egged on by a blatantly partisan crowd, will feel the need to make a statement, not just pick up two points. This game won’t be short of drama, or emotion.

Head-to-head record:

Matches played: 10; Bangalore won: 4; Hyderabad won: 6

Head-to-heads at the Chinnaswamy

Matches played: 5; Bangalore won: 3; Hyderabad won: 2

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