Bengaluru, April 12: Desperate to break their title jinx, Virat Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) would be hoping for a positive start to their campaign in the ninth season of the Indian Premier League against Sunrisers Hyderabad, here tonight (April 12).
Despite having a formidable side, RCB have never won the IPL title since the tournament's inception in 2008. On two occasions - 2009 and 2011 - they came closest to the trophy but ended up second best on both the times.
Leaving behind all the off-field controversies surrounding former franchise chairman Vijay Mallya, this time around RCB would be hoping to break the jinx under the leadership of Kohli, who has been in sublime form.
Kohli, who is considered as one of the best batsman in the world at present, is in supreme form and had amassed 273 runs in five ICC World T20 matches to bag player of the tournament award.
Kohli would be eyeing to carry on the good form in the IPL for his franchise, which also has some of the big names of the game in its batting department.
With the likes of Kohli, big-hitting Chris Gayle, dangerous AB de Villiers and seasoned Shane Watson up its rank, RCB possesses a mighty batting unit which on its day can tear apart any bowling outfit.
Just-retired Australian Watson would be hoping to prove his worth by producing an all-round show after he became the costliest player in this year's IPL auction. He was fetched by RCB for a whopping Rs 9.5 crore.
If needed RCB might also be prompted to utilise the services of Travis Head and Sarfaraz Khan, who have shown their capability in the T20 format.
New incumbent Stuart Binny and Mandeep Singh would also be hoping to play important roles, as only four international players are allowed in the playing eleven.
Having lost the services of their main strike bowler Mitchell Starc, New Zealand's Adam Milne is likely to lead the bowling attack in the company of Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Sreenath Arvind and Varun Aaron.
But RCB would be missing the services of West Indies leg-spinner Samuel Badree for the first few matches as he is yet to recover from a shoulder injury suffered during the World T20.
In Badree's absence, RCB would bank on Yuzvendra Chahal, who has had fairly good outings in a couple of previous IPL seasons by taking 15 wickets in 2015 and 14 wickets in 2014.
Sunrisers Hyderabad, on the other hand, have been a major disappointment ever since their debut in 2013 when they reached the play-off stages.
Nevertheless Sunrisers would like to leave behind the disappointments of previous seasons with an improved show this time around.
Sunrisers would be hoping to ride on Yuvraj Singh, skipper David Warner and Ashish Nehra's experience to come good this year.
But the Hyderabad outfit may miss the services of Yuvraj early on as the southpaw is injured.
Besides, Sunrisers fortune will also depend on the performances of Eoin Morgan, Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, who are capable enough to win matches on their own.
Nehra, who has been impressive in World T20 for India, will be spearheading Sunrisers' bowling attack in the company of Boult and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Leg-spinner Karn Sharma will be leading Sunrisers' spin department along side part-timers Deepak Hooda, Bipul Sharma, Tirumalsetti Suman and Yuvraj.
Naman Ojha, who is a good stumper with good reflexes, would love to score quick runs, but he would have to battle it out against Aditya Tare for wicketkeeper's slot in the team.
On paper, Sunrisers may not look as strong as RCB, but they have a side to meet all their needs.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Shane Watson, Stuart Binny, Kane Richardson, Samuel Badree, Travis Head, Praveen Dubey, Vikramjeet Malik, Iqbal Abdulla, Sachin Baby, Akshay Karnewar, Vikas Tokas, KL Rahul, Parvez Rasool, Abu Nechim, Harshal Patel, Kedar Jadhav, Mandeep Singh, Sarfaraz Ahmed, S. Arvind, Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal, AB de Villiers, David Wiese, Adam Milne and Chris Gayle.
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Ricky Bhui, Trent Boult, Moises Henriques, Abhimanyu Mithun, Siddarth Kaul, Mustafizur Rahman, Naman Ojha, Karn Sharma, Tirumalsetti Suman, Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Ashish Reddy, Bipul Sharma, Ben Cutting, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Eoin Morgan, Vijay Shankar, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Kane Williamson.
Match starts at 8 PM IST