Two teams that made the Playoffs last season, but just could not take that final step lock horns in an IPL 7 match in Abu Dhabi on Friday as the Sunrisers Hyderabad and the Rajasthan Royals look to set the tone for the rest of the season with a victory.
Where to Watch Live:
The game is scheduled for a 6.30 pm local time (8 pm IST, 3.30 pm GMT, 10.30 am ET) start with live coverage on Sony Max and Sony Six in India. Watch the match via live streaming online in India HERE or HERE. Viewers in the US can live stream the action HERE, while audience in Canada can do the same HERE. Rest of the world can catch the IPL action HERE, HERE or through the GoCricket apps.
Viewers in the UK can catch the action live on ITV, while Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will have TV coverage via Geo Super, Maasaranga TV and Carlton Sports Network respectively. Viewers in the Middle East and North Africa can catch the action on OSN and with the link HERE, while New Zealand viewers can do the same through Sky NZ HERE.
The Royals will be without their talisman Rahul Dravid, who decided to call it a day, but the Indian legend will be part of the support staff as a mentor.
Taking over the reins from Dravid will be Royals stalwart Shane Watson, who enters his seventh season as a Rajasthan player. The onus will be on Watson to carry on the terrific work done by Dravid and Shane Warne over the past six years.
The core is still there with Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge, with Steven Smith, Kane Richardson, Ben Cutting and Tim Southee added to the mix.
If the Royals can keep producing consistently with the bat at the top - much will depend on Watson, Rahane and Samson - and if the bowlers can keep things tight, then they will yet again challenge for the Playoff places.
Their opponents on Friday have also kept the core intact while adding quite a few game-changers. Joining the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Darren Sammy, Ishant Sharma and Dale Steyn will be the explosive Aussie opening duo of David Warner and Aaron Finch and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Irfan Pathan.
"It was very important for us to strengthen our top order, which we have done now," Sunrisers team mentor Krishnamachari Srikkanth said. "We have retained our core group of five players who did well for us last year. We had a winning bowling unit and we have maintained that pack. That is the advantage we have."
Skipper Shikhar Dhawan also confirmed he would open the batting with Aaron Finch, with Warner coming in at No. 3, making it a formidable top three for the Sunrisers.
"We have decided that Finch and I will open the batting," Dhawan said. "It gives us the advantage of a left-right combination at the top of the order, which can make it difficult for the bowlers to maintain their line and length, especially in the T20 format. Warner will bat at No.3."
Dhawan was also happy to see the green nature of the wicket at Abu Dhabi, knowing pretty well the ammunition he has at his disposal, led by the best bowler in the world - Dale Steyn.
"I saw the game [between Mumbai Indians and KKR) yesterday," Dhawan said on Thursday. "The ball was moving a bit and there was extra bounce. That was a heartening sight given we have world's best fast bowler and other quality pacers, like Ishant and Bhuvi, who can bowl well around him. It will help us for sure."