Since the beginning of the Indian Premier League, the fans of Royal Challengers Bangalore have been waiting to take home the trophy.
In 2011 and 2016, when the team reached the finals, the fans were convinced that they would break the title jinx. Both times, however, the team finished second. But this time millions of RCB fans are dreaming again.
After making the playoffs, the Faf du Plessis-led side rode on Rajat Patidar’s undefeated century and bowling attempts by Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel to beat Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator at Eden Gardens on Thursday. And as the team takes on the Rajasthan Royals at Narendra Modi Stadium for Friday’s second qualifier, that has raised expectations for a much-anticipated trophy.
While RCB seems to be riding on the momentum, it won’t be easy. This is the first match of the tournament in Ahmedabad, with the wicket untested and with very little time to train, and both sides may find it challenging to measure the surface. And with a level playing field, the match becomes even more exciting.
Rajasthan Royals have a formidable batting unit, with Jos Buttler and Captain Sanju Samson leading the way. After fail to defend a total of 180 plus against Gujarat Titans in the first qualifier, the team will be happy to regroup soon.
After a string of bad performances, Buttler initially struggled to get going against Titans, and it took quite a while before he made some big hits and reached his half-century. But in a do-or-die game, the team must make sure Buttler gets his touch back.
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While the middle class relies heavily on Shimron Hetmyer’s clout, captain Sanju also has to turn the 30s and 40s into a big blow. And the cricket fans will get ready to watch Sanju take on RCB’s Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
In the first qualifier, the star-studded bowling unit of the Royals struggled, with R. Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal going wicketless. Even the seasoned Prasidh Krishna didn’t look good when he failed to defend 16 runs in the final. So it will be a challenge for the Royals team management to ensure that the bowling department is not overrun by the RCB’s battery-powered firepower.
Full of confidence
The Bengaluru team is naturally brimming with confidence after a convincing win over Super Giants, and the team will once again expect Patidar to turn out well. After going unsold in the auction, the Madhya Pradesh batter played the innings of his career at Eden Gardens while attacking the Lucknow bowlers.
But as temperatures rise in Ahmedabad, the RCB side needs to be careful and make sure that complacency doesn’t creep in.
The batting division will revolve around captain Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli, while Dinesh Karthik will once again have to anchor the mid-range alongside seasoned Glenn Maxwell. The team will likely stick with the winning combination and make sure there are no missteps. In recent seasons, RCB’s campaign has ended in the play-offs, but now there is hope.
Ee Sala Cup Named† Time will tell.