Kolkata: The IPL caravan moves from the east to the western part of the country with an upbeat Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on Rajasthan Royals in Qualifier 2 of the season at the cavernous Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Friday. The finalists will take on Gujarat Titans, the home team, who will be backed by a full-throated cheer of the local Gujrati population at what’s arguably the biggest cricket venue of the world now.
It’s going to be a battle of the Royals on Friday - with Faf du Plessis’ men making full use of the opportunity of squeaking into the play-offs as the fourth team as they dominated Lucknow Super Giants with the bat and won the crucial moments with the ball to eventually win by 14 runs. They had an unlikely hero in the centurion Rajat Patidar alright, but RCB still would not have been in a position to cross the 200-mark but for a valuable partnership between him and Virat Kohli for the second wicket and then the most profitable one for the fifth wicket with Dinesh Karthik which yielded 92 runs off 41 balls.
Speaking ahead of the Eliminator in Kolkata, both skipper Du Plessis and technical director Mike Hesson attributed the success of their team’s campaign this season to a new-found ‘calmness,’ which had in fact helped them tide over a dip in form and bounce back. They are certainly peaking when it mattered and the collective experience of a number of their senior players who have been a part of the pressure cokker atmposhere of these knockout matches - from a title-winner Faf to ‘DK’ will certainly give them a slight edge against Sanju Samson’s men.
It was a collective failure on part of the highly rated Royals bowling attack against the calculated assault of Gujarat skipper Hardik Pandya and David Miller here on Tuesday night - and what added to the problems of the Pink Army was that the Eden wicket hardly offered any grip to their seasoned spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravi Ashwin. Trent Boult, a master of providing breakthroughs in the powerplay, had leaked runs in his second spell and so has Prasidh Krishna - it will hence be interesting to see if they can tighten up things on this front.
“It’s been 14 years for RCB (as they’ve never owned that elusive silverware) and 13 years since Rajasthan won their last title in the inaugural season. So between the two of them, it’s been 27 years. They both want it badly and it will be a battle of Royals. Let’s wait for that one. It’s going to be a great contest as both the teams would want to win it badly,” was how Ravi Shastri, back as a TV pundit with the official broadcasters, summed up the build-up to the game.
Catch the match
Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Rajasthan Royals
Venue: Narendra Modi Stadium, Ahmedabad
Start: 6 pm UAE