Dubai: Virat Kohli will begin his quest for an elusive IPL title when perennial under-achievers Royal Challengers Bangalore take on David Warner's low profile but consistent Sunrisers Hyderabad in their opening IPL encounter here on Monday.
Both teams possess dangerous batsmen who can single-handedly take the game away from the opposition.
Kohli has always led from the front but he knows his search for a maiden title will remain incomplete if the team doesn't perform in all departments.
The addition of Australian limited overs captain Aaron Finch to the squad gives the star-studded batting line up more firepower. Expectations are also high from highly rated young opener Devdutt Padikal.
On the other hand, Warner, whose exploits in the IPL include winning the 'Orange Cap' thrice and leading his side to a maiden title triumph in 2016, will once again pair up with the dangerous Jonny Bairstow.
The formidable opening duo, that shattered multiple records including the highest opening partnership in IPL history against RCB last season, will hope to emulate the previous edition's exploits. Sunrisers also have the batting prowess of Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Mitchell Marsh and Fabian Allen.
Following a nightmarish 2019 season when they finished last, RCB seem to have much better balance but there ability to hit late in the innings is yet to be tested.
Sunrisers' blind spot also lies in the lack of depth in their batting order. The franchise has invested in youngsters like Virat Singh, Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, and Abdul Samad and the management in the hopes that one of them could become the vital cog in the middle order.
A team that is known for its depth and variation in bowling, Sunrisers' core unit remains unchanged. Bhuvneshwar Kumar will spearhead the pace department with Sandeep Sharma, Siddarth Kaul and Basil Thampi playing secondary roles.
Armed with presence of the top T20 bowler Afghanistan leggie Rashid Khan and no.1 all-rounder in the format Mohammad Nabi, who was in a terrific form in the recently-concluded CPL, Sunrisers have one of the best spin bowling attacks in the tournament. They also have left-armer Shahbaz Nadeem.
RCB also boasts of a potent spin unit, leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will again be the key as he has been over the past seasons with Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Adam Zampa and Moeen Ali lending more options.
RCB have also addressed the issue of their weak death bowling that plagued their campaign last season. The franchise has bought South African bowling all-rounder Chris Morris.
At the helm of both sides are Australians, Sunrisers have appointed Trevos Baylis, who guided England to their maiden ODI World Cup title last year, as coach, RCB has placed its faith in Simon Katich to lead them.
The Squads (From):
Sunrisers Hyderabad: David Warner (c), Jonny Bairstow, Kane Williamson, Manish Pandey, Shreevats Goswami, Virat Singh, Priyam Garg, Wriddhiman Saha, Abdul Samad, Vijay Shankar, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mitchell Marsh, Abhishek Sharma, Bavanaka Sandeep, Sanjay Yadav, Fabian Allen, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, KhaleelAhmed, Sandeep Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddharth Kaul, Billy Stanlake, TNatarajan, Basil Thampi.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Navdeep Saini, Dale Steyn, Yuzvendra Chahal, Adam Zampa, Isuru Udana, Moeen Ali, Josh Phillppe, Pawan Negi, Pavan Deshpande, Mohammad Siraj, Umesh Yadav....