Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad come face to face a year after David Warner and Steve Smith picked up their bans. Both sides looked destined for victory but ended up losing their first respective first games. They will now have the opportunity to get off the mark in this year's IPL.
As has been the case over the years, the shortest format is all about identifying different players and looking for matchups in order to curb their threat. We identify three main player battles which can determine the course of the match.
David Warner vs Dhawal Kulkarni
David Warner announced his arrival in some style in the first match of the season with a brilliant innings of 85. Today is the day when he finally completes his suspension over the ball-tampering scandal. He looks determined to make this season count and be indispensable to Australia's World Cup ambitions.
However, he has to be wary of Dhawal Kulkarni. Against the fast bowler, Warner has only managed to score 44 runs in 52 balls and has been dismissed twice. Kulkarni bowls a very tight line and gets the ball to move around which can be disconcerting for the openers and Ajinkya Rahane would want his new ball bowler to continue this good record.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Ajinkya Rahane
The battle between the Indian stalwarts, this contest between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane up front in the powerplay overs could determine the course of the match.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a fine bowler for SRH in the IPL over the years and if we take a look at the numbers, the Rajasthan skipper has managed to score only 71 runs in the 78 balls faced so far. He has been dismissed by Bhuvi six times over the years and this could have a huge bearing on the match.
Rahane, more often than not, drops anchor which allows the other stroke makers to come out and play their strokes with freedom and hence, his importance at the top of the order is pivotal for Rajasthan, more so in the powerplay overs.
Siddarth Kaul vs Sanju Samson
The middle over phase in T20s have a huge bearing on the result of the match and hence, the performance of Siddarth Kaul and Sanju Samson will be under the scanner.
Sanju's record against Siddarth Kaul has been brilliant as in only 23 balls, he has smashed him for 39 runs and has been dismissed only one. However, Kaul now has international experience and is a far more confident bowler which should help him devise better strategies against Samson when the pressure is on.