Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals | Wednesday 20 May | Pune | 16:30
This will be end of the Indian Premier League for one of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. There’s very little to separate the two as it is. They both finished equal on points with the same wins, losses and no results. Only run-rate enabled the Royal Challengers to steal third-place from the Royals but with this match a sudden death affair, it’s all academic. The Eliminator functions as described; the loser exits the competition while the winner gets one more shot at a place in the final by taking part in Qualifier 2.
To Win Match
Royal Challengers Bangalore 11/20
Rajasthan Royals 29/20
Royal Challengers Bangalore
RCB missed out a chance to finish in the top two and compete in Qualifier 1 with their second washout of the tournament in their last outing. It would’ve required that Bangalore chase a stiff 187 on a fairly slow wicket but the Royal Challengers would’ve always felt that they had the firepower and personnel necessary. Their biggest worry will be the form of Dinesh Karthik. He has just managed to cross a hundred runs for the tournament in a total of nine innings and is really struggling to obtain any momentum. However, in the form of Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle, the Royal Challengers have some of the most explosive names in the game. They are also the main culprits in the run-scoring department for RCB this season. Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal (nineteen wickets), Mitchell Starc (eighteen) and Harshal Patel (fourteen) head up an exceptionally strong bowling attack and they will be looking to run through the Royals as quickly as possible.
Shane Watson’s decision to hand over the captaincy of the Royals to Steve Smith has worked wonders for the Aussie all-rounder’s game. Watson scored an unbeaten 104 from 59 balls and picked up a couple of wickets to take the Royals into the playoffs. It was certainly a welcome performance considering that the Royals’ seamers sent down a staggering eighteen wides against Kolkata. They will need to improve a great deal ahead of this match as they will not get away with giving away runs against the Royal Challengers. The Royals’ biggest strength lies in their batting. Ajinkya Rahane is two short of 500 tournament runs this season while Watson is averaging well into the forties. Chris Morris and been their most successful bowler with twelve wickets but the truth is that the Royals simply lack penetration. They’ll need to make up for this with impeccable discipline to tie down Bangalore’s arrays of gunslingers.
Pune has been elected to host the Eliminator and therefore is a neutral ground for the two sides involved. Only the Royals have played at the ground this season, recording a 26-run win over the Kings XI. There have been no high-scoring matches on the track with all scores below the 170 mark. In the previous head-to-head (one rained out), the Royal Challengers cruised to victory with nine wickets intact, chasing a measly 130.
VERDICT: Royal Challengers Bangalore 11/20
Heavily favoured to leave this match the victor, the Royal Challengers Bangalore have had a decent season and are finally reaping the rewards of having such unbridled talent in their ranks. They’ve been disappointing in IPLs past with the quality at their disposal but perhaps this season they can put all that to bed. Back RCB to take the win.