Will Mustafizur Rahman play the IPL 2016 final? That is the big question heading into this mega clash between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. The left-armer missed Qualifier 2 on Friday with a hamstring injury.
While his replacement Trent Boult made an early impact, with the New Zealander involved in the first three wickets taken by the Sunrisers Hyderabad against the Gujarat Lions, it all went a little pear-shaped in the death overs, which is where Mustafizur's worth really shines through.
Considering RCB's batting prowess, led by Virat Kohli, AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle, SRH will certainly hope Mustafizur recovers in time from the tight hamstring that forced him out of the match against GL.
Mustafizur just brings so much control and assurance for David Warner in the final overs, and he is always available as a wicket-taking option as well, if needed, earlier in the match. However, if the Bangladesh off-cutter machine fails to recover in time, Boult, who played his first game of IPL 2016 in that win over the Gujarat Lions, is likely to keep his place.
Apart from that possible change, though, the Sunrisers Hyderabad are likely to go in with a similar playing XI, with Bipul Sharma, more than showing his value to the side, with his batting skills.
Warner, though, will hope the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh and Deepak Hooda contribute more with the bat, because if the skipper has to wage a lone war again, the title might just be beyond them against this formidable RCB unit.
RCB, barring any late injury, are also likely to go with the same playing XI that beat the Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 1. Having had five days of rest following that victory and no need for travel, RCB will be a lot fresher than SRH, but it remains to be seen if that is a good thing or not.
Sometimes, playing and winning matches, like the Sunrisers have, can be the better thing, but then, in such a long season, a little bit of downtime could work wonders.
Expected playing XI: RCB: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (C), AB De Villiers, KL Rahul, Shane Watson, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, Iqbal Abdulla, Chris Jordan, Sreenath Aravind, Yuzvendra Chahal.
SRH: David Warner (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda, Ben Cutting, Naman Ojha, Bipul Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran, Mustafizur Rahman.