Hyderabad share top spot in table Chennai Super Kings, but they have game in hand
Kane Williamson's Sunrisers Hyderabad prove IPL 2018 team to beat ahead of Royal Challengers Bangalore clash
Sunrisers Hyderabad will be overwhelming favourites to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore when the two southern Indian franchises face off at Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on Monday.
Hyderabad have been the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament's form team this year. They share the top spot with Chennai Super Kings - both teams are on 14 points - although the Sunrisers have a game in hand. And if they beat their regional rivals on Monday, they will go clear at the summit of the table.
Indeed, Kane Williamson's men deserve to be where they are. They have dominated most games, their seven-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils on Saturday a case in point. None of the Hyderabad batsmen went on to get a massive score during their 164-run chase, instead the spoils being shared fairly equitably between the top five: Alex Hales (45), Shikhar Dhawan (33), Williamson (32 not out), Manish Pandey (21) and Yusuf Pathan (27 not out)
Also important to note is the bowling performances. Again, all Hyderabad bowlers have done well, although leg-spinner Rashid Khan and seamer Sidharth Kaul have taken 12 wickets.
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In contrast, the Royal Challengers have thoroughly flopped this term. Except captain Virat Kohli - who else - none of the other batsmen have scored runs on a consistent basis. AB de Villiers has struggled with the flu, while Quinton de Kock and Brendon McCullum have been blow hot, blow cold.
Save for fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who tops of the tournament's bowling charts in 2018, the franchise's bowling has been all over the place. Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin (no relation with Kings XI Punjab's Ravichandran Ashwin) could not get his length right during their defeat to Chennai on Saturday. The team's other leggie - Yuzvendra Chahal - was guilty of overstepping the bowling crease.
With the Sunrisers playing in the relative comforts of their home as well, Kohli's men will indeed pull off a surprise if they win. And if they don't, they can pretty much kiss their play-off hopes goodbye.