The race for the IPL 2015 playoffs just keeps getting more and more interesting – it is as if six Haile Gebreselassie's are running against each other. Two of those on Friday go by the name of Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore. Lose the match, and it could just be curtains in their hopes of finishing in the top four and extending their season.
SRH are the form team of the IPL, winning five of their last six matches to ensure clinching a playoff berth is very much in their hands.
The batting has slowly but surely come into its own, even if David Warner still holds the key to the team getting a massive score as to a par one.
In the last match, the SRH captain led from the front, scoring a terrific 81 to help his team to 185. David Miller nearly pulled off the impossible in the chase, but SRH held on for the win to move up to third in the points table.
Win their next two games and finishing in the top two is a real possibility, something that Tom Moody will, no doubt, want.
"I think players are pretty well conditioned to cope up with the pressure of the IPL," the SRH coach said. "Every edition of the IPL has been always tense during the closing stages and the last couple of games
"Even last year, there were a number of teams that could have found themselves in the top four. It is really up to me and the rest of the support staff to make sure that we concentrate on the very next game and not look too far beyond that or look at other results. We have got two games left at home and we want to win the two games that we are playing here."
The final game will also be a winner-takes-all encounter against the Mumbai Indians, but, as Moody said, before that, there is the not-so-small matter of negotiating RCB. The Royal Challengers Bangalore had a bit of air taken out of their high by the KXIP in their last game, with the much-vaunted batting lineup failing to fire in the match that was reduced to 10 overs a side.
All three of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers have shown their prowess in this IPL, but the batsmen after that remains a little suspect. Therefore, it will be firmly on the superstar trio to notch up the runs again, be that batting first or in a more-pressure situation in the chase.
RCB, who are a point behind SRH, did not handle the pressure of a 107-run chase in 10 overs too well against KXIP, but the Sunrisers Hyderabad will know what sort of mauling Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers can hand out, if they are allowed to.
The SRH bowling has been quite impressive so far in IPL 2015, and it will be that bowling which will need to do the job against those three scary-good batsmen.
"RCB are a strong side particularly since they have made the adjustment to their batting order," Moody added. "But as we saw last [against Kings XI Punjab], they, like anyone, can fall short of personal totals or team totals that need to be chased down.
"We have played well against RCB at home in the past and we intend to do the same [again]."
In the reverse fixture at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, SRH, led by a big opening from Warner and Shikhar Dhawan, eased past RCB by eight wickets – a repeat of that performance, and the team from Hyderabad will be ever closer to sealing their spot in the playoffs. RCB, of course, will be thinking along the same lines, and with Mitchell Starc also leading the bowling attack well, expect a contest that could just go right down to the wire, especially considering what is at stake.
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SRH vs RCB Match 52 of IPL 2015 is scheduled for an 8 pm IST (3.30 pm BST, 10.30 am ET) start. Live coverage on TV in India will be on Sony Six (English), Sony Max (Hindi), Sony Kix (Tamil and Telugu) and Sony Aath (Bengali).
Audience watch the IPL 2015 game in the US can flip the remote to ESPN, while the live stream option is on ESPN Cricket. Sky Sports1 will telecast Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore Live in the UK, while the match can also be live streamed on Watch Sky Sports and Sky Go.
Viewers across the world can also catch the IPL 2015 match via live streaming on Cricketgateway.