A Super Over in 2013, a last over ending in 2014, a dramatic rain-curtailed boundary-stepping thriller in 2015 and high-scoring encounters in 2016 and 2017 – Sunrisers Hyderabad versus Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has always been a highly anticipated contest in the Indian Premier League.

The moods in the two camps ahead of Monday’s (May 7) clash, though, are quite contrasting. While the hosts are ruling the points table, sitting pretty atop, the other is staring at a potential elimination; bowling is a boon for one, while a bane for the other.

The Sunrisers are on a roll clutching oppositions, having recorded four successive wins, with three being on the back of their bowlers. And that, without their spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Their latest win against Delhi Daredevils was good for two reasons: Alex Hales emulating what a counter-attacking David Warner would do and Yusuf Pathan’s blitz in the death when 28 were needed off 12 balls – an area they were lacking in past years. SRH have traditionally been blessed with quality bowlers. They know how to do it day in day out, so there’s not much to ponder about. But batting at times, is a concern for them. Two good starts in successive games will put them at ease with an important box ticked, but it is the clicking of the middle order that they need to go their way, and quickly.

They made a conscious effort at the auction to address that same weakness, and picked up solid players for the roles who can win games on their own. Project (Manish) Pandey, that hasn’t lived up to its billing, is something they would love to see succeed, while Shakib Al Hasan and Pathan are solid options for them.

In stark contrast, the Royal Challengers are in dire straits. It all starts even before the action begins. Their team selection has raised eyebrows, and questions have always been asked as to why X was preferred over Y. Unable to fathom their decision-making, some have used the term “baffling” in their expressions for them. When cricket starts, batting is their greatest strength, but their reliance on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to rally the team is evident. When they fail, RCB struggle. Brendon McCullum and Quinton de Kock have been inconsistent and Parthiv Patel straightaway proved why he should have been roped in much earlier. He is someone who mostly gives starts – a proven record in the IPL – if not score a fifty. Mandeep Singh has not converted starts and the rest have always been rotated.

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Their bowling doesn’t make for a pleasant chatter either. However, you have to give them a bit of a leeway; the Chinnaswamy is a tough workstation for bowlers. The dimensions are small, edges fly, mishits travel, and the Bengaluru altitude doesn’t help either. So a bigger-sized ground like the one in Uppal can definitely be a little more morale-boosting as ill-timed shots could land in hands.

Umesh Yadav has been the lone spark, while Yuzvendra Chahal’s not-so-great show has dented RCB badly. Kohli and Co. are left scratching their heads as to who to bowl at the death. Teams have been discounting them in this aspect of the game and they need to come up with answers. The sooner, the better.

History has suggested that this clash has generally been exciting. While SRH would quietly hope that their famed bowling line-up is put to a serious test by the star-studded RCB batting line-up to have all sorts of exposure before the play-offs, a loss could bring the curtains down on RCB’s chances because 14 points may not be enough to qualify.

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What: Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Royal Challengers Bangalore, May 7, 20:00 IST

Where: Rajiv Gandhi International cricket stadium, Uppal, Hyderabad

What to expect: The pitches this year in Hyderabad have been a little sticky, with run-scoring not being that easy. It is likely to remain the same and there is no threat of rain for Monday.

Team news:

Royal Challengers Bangalore: RCBlanded in Hyderabad on Sunday after their match against Chennai Super Kings and lack of recovery time meant they chose not to practice on the eve of the game. It is tough to predict the team changes because they are still unable to find the right combination that works. Will Moeen Ali get a chance? He definitely does deserve one, and Parthiv Patel should continue to don the gloves.

Probable XI: Parthiv Patel (w), Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli(c), AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Colin de Grandhomme, Tim Southee, Murugan Ashwin/Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Sunrisers Hyderabad: The fact that Sunrisers have a settled line-up means they are unlikely to change a successful combination. The only probable change could be picking Basil Thampi ahead of Sandeep Sharma. On Sunday, the hosts opted to have an off day as well.

Probable XI: Alex Hales, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson(c), Manish Pandey, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Siddarth Kaul, Sandeep Sharma/Basil Thampi

Head to Head of teams:

SRH 5 – 4 RCB (one tie)

Team Record at that particular venue:

SRH 3 – 1 RCB (one tie)

Interesting face-offs:

Kohli vs Sandeep: Kohli has got out to Sandeep five times off 31 balls. Kohli has managed to score at a rate of 174.19 against him.

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Kohli has scored more runs than anyone else against SRH – 434 runs from nine innings at 62.00 (4 X 50s; HS 93*) with a SR of 146.62.

Vohra vs Rashid: Among all those who have faced at least five balls from Rashid Khan in IPL, Manan Vohra has the highest strike rate – 264.29 (37 runs off 14 balls without getting dismissed).

Bhuvi vs Parthiv: Bhuvi has dismissed Parthiv four times in 52 balls conceding just 41 runs.

IPL 2018 trends:

SRH have both the lowest run-rate and economy rate in the first over of the innings this IPL. They score at 3.44 per over and concede at 2.44 per over.

Gayle & Rahul have put together stands of 53 and 55 against SRH this season. The other sides have struggled to negotiate the new ball against SRH as the average opening stand of 11.57 with no stand over 20 suggests.

SRH has the best economy rate in the last ten overs (11-20) – 7.41 – while RCB has the worst in the same phase – 10.24. SRH have taken 42 wickets in this phase compared to RCB’s 28.

What they said:

“We still have too many games left (at home). From a team’s perspective, we are looking for improvement.” SRH captain Kane Williamson after defeating Delhi Daredevils on Saturday.

“We know it is a tough road ahead, we need to win at least 4 matches or all 5 matches. We have to pull our socks up. We have played our best cricket when we have been in this position. I have an optimistic feeling about the games ahead.” RCB skipper Virat Kohli after the game against Chennai Super Kings in Pune. #KhabarLive