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After a month and a half of non-stop cricketing action, it all boils down to this - the grand finale of the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier League. Eight teams started their journey in pursuit of the coveted trophy and after some nervewracking moments, thrillers and evenly fought contests, it is the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad who will walk out on Sunday night at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium to clash for top honours.
Both teams have a few similarities. Both captains are amongst the runs, both have led by example and both have been one of the prime reasons for their team’s success and entry into the final. There is much hype surrounding the big day. Be rest assured to see a wave of red on Sunday night and no prices for guessing which team is going to get the loudest of cheers. Captain Kohli acknowledged the fact that the fans have had a huge role in their team’s campaign and thanked them for their relentless support come what may. “We have made it to two finals, but we couldn't cross the line. But, this one is for the fans. In a stadium where the atmosphere has always been electric, tomorrow is going to be even more special for them,” Virat said. “As cricketers, we understand that the energy that fans bring makes a massive difference in coming back from difficult situations. We have given them joy, and they have helped us pull through difficult situations. Tomorrow is a special occasion for us, but more so for the people of Bangalore who will come to watch the match.”
Sunday night won’t be special for just one team. Their opposition Sunrisers too will be playing in a final for the very first time and they would be looking to go all out eyeing the title. It is going to be an occasion of RCB’s batting against the Sunrisers’ bowling might. Virat held the opposition in high regard. “We felt SRH was one of the most balanced teams before the tournament started and that's why they have reached the final. Their bowlers have the ability to restrict a side to 150. They have a good batting line-up as well with David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan at the top who have got runs in the middle period of the tournament. Yuvraj has come really good in the last few games for them and so has Moisés Henriques who has been contributing well. It takes contributions from everyone for a team to reach the final.”
RCB have had a few days off and a couple of practice sessions after their win in the first playoff game against Gujarat Lions. The cooling off period has helped the team to regain focus for the final, believed Virat. “We've had quite a long run before the last game that we played - we have had a lot of back-to-back games. In that regard, getting a few days off was a good thing for our players to get fresh before getting back into the practice sessions.
“Sometimes you need to get back into the zone through practice sessions as a team, because you can tend to get complacent once you're in the final. So we understood the importance of the two practice sessions - the intensity was good, especially for the team to come together before a big game and actually execute the plans that we want to take in. I felt that it was a good time to prepare, and to get the right sort of momentum going into a big game like the final tomorrow. We will back our strengths . We were able to turn things around and are in the final because we did not focus much on the other teams. We had sat down and decided to back our abilities and play to our strengths irrespective of the opponents. We played with that mindset for the last 4-5 matches and that's the reason why we could change the situation for ourselves.”
Virat also said it was important for the team to maintain composure before the all important final. “One word that comes to mind is composure. It’s very similar to being in a pressure situation while you are batting or bowling. What you require is composure. On occasions like this, where it starts is in the change room. How you look at the atmosphere out there on the ground, how excited or nervous you get, whether your heart rate is shooting up before you even start warm-ups, all those things are very important for a person to understand. You just need to try and be as normal as possible about things.
“Whether you win or whether you lose, that will not stay. Just to stay away from that. Be attached yet be detached, it’s a classic example of that saying where you want to win, but at the same time you are not so attached to it that you are cursing yourself or being too hard on yourself. At the same time, if you win, you must enjoy with your teammates, you must enjoy the occasion but understand that that’s not the end of everything. The juggernaut doesn’t stop rolling there, you still have to keep working hard in any of the games you play afterwards.”
The Indian Premier League will have a new champion. One of Royal Challengers Bangalore or Sunrisers Hyderabad, who will come up against each other in the Final of VIVO IPL 2016, will be crowned champions on Sunday night.
Royal Challengers Bangalore are in the final, courtesy their win in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday. Their 4-wicket win was pretty much representative of how their season has panned out. Chasing 159, RCB were reduced to 68-6 and pretty much out of the contest, before AB de Villiers took control and drove his team over the finish line. RCB’s season has been pretty much similar; after the matches on May 8, they were down in the dumps – with just two wins in eight matches and sandwiched between Rising Pune Supergiants and Kings XI Punjab, two teams who eventually finished in the bottom two places. Then came the turnaround; RCB rose from the ashes, won five of their remaining six matches, finished second in the standings, and then won the Qualifier 1 against the Gujarat Lions to charge to the Final.
Sunrisers Hyderabad were top of the table with three days remaining in the league stage of the competition. Two defeats in three days meant they slipped from the top and sneaked in to the playoffs as the third-placed team. SRH have found their bearings once again; they sent Kolkata Knight Riders packing, defeating the two-time champions by 22 runs in the Eliminator, before David Warner’s solo effort against the Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 2 ensured a date with RCB in the Final.
On the basis of what one has seen so far in the tournament, RCB v SRH is a battle between the best batting line-up and the best bowling line-up. Which captain will lift the IPL trophy on Sunday evening? Will it be third time lucky for RCB, who also made it to the Final in 2009 and 2011? Or will Sunrisers Hyderabad clinch the trophy in their first-ever appearance in the Final?
29 May 2016, 2000 Hrs IST Where
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
Temperature: Max 25°c, Min 23°c Humidity: Max 89% Wind: 9kmph
For starters, one doesn’t have to look beyond the two captains. Virat Kohli has been in sensational form for RCB; he has had a season like no other batsman has had in a T20 competition. A record aggregate of 919 runs, four centuries, six half-centuries, an unbelievable average of 83.54 and all these runs accumulated at a strike-rate of 151.90.
For SRH, David Warner has led from the front; a powerful striker of the cricket ball and a match-winner, the left-hander has added a new element to his game. Earlier, one was accustomed to seeing Warner operate in one gear and go hammer-and-tongs all the time. But in VIVO IPL 2016, he has applied better; the Australian has shown the intent to take the match to the end, and backs himself to complete the job – even if he has to do it single-handedly.
Add AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Shane Watson, Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh into the mix, and you have an array of stars waiting to explode.
Among the new-ball bowlers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is the Purple Cap holder, and Sreenath Arvind are capable of exploiting whatever assistance there is in the pitch and in the air; the former has been deadly while bowling in the Powerplay overs – he has picked up 10 wickets in the 34 overs he has bowled in the first six overs and has an economy rate of 5.94. Arvind meanwhile, has had plenty of success while bowling on this ground in particular, and has provided his team the initial breakthrough in five of the eight matches he has played this season.
Among others, keep an eye on the death-overs-specialist Mustafizur Rahman in the SRH line-up, and on Shane Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal in the RCB line-up.
Head to Head
The head to head between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad is split down the centre; the two teams have so far met on eight occasions, and both teams have won four matches apiece. The story is no different in contests between the two teams this season; RCB defeated SRH by 45 runs in their season opener, while SRH returned the favour, winning their home fixture by 15 runs in Hyderabad.
In matches in Bengaluru though, RCB have been dominant, having defeated SRH thrice in four outings. Trivia
Virat Kohli is two sixes short of hitting 200 sixes in T20 cricket. He had a sixes-per-inning ratio of 0.99 before this season; in VIVO IPL 2016, he he has hit 36 sixes and has a ratio of 2.40 sixes per match.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have the highest boundary percentage of all batting sides in VIVO IPL 2016 – 60.63%. Sunrisers Hyderabad meanwhile have the lowest boundary percentage among all bowling sides – 52.44%.
VIVO IPL 2016 has been the most batsmen-friendly season ever; the average runs per wicket this season stood at an all-time high of 28.34. In terms of overall scoring rate too, this season’s overall scoring rate of 8.28 is third overall.
RCB’s economy rate in the first seven matches in VIVO IPL 2016 stood at 9.44. In the next 8 matches, their economy rate was a much-improved 8.07.
David Warner has scored half-centuries in each of his last six matches against RCB; his scores read 61, 59, 57, 52*, 58 & 92. His strike-rate in these six innings reads 165.50.
The Final will also be a special occasion for David Warner, for he will be playing his 100th IPL match. He will become the fourth overseas player to play 100 IPL matches after AB de Villiers, Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard. What Next
The winner of this contest will be crowned VIVO IPL 2016 champions; they will take home the IPL trophy as well as the winner’s purse of INR 15.0 Crore. The losers meanwhile will have to be content with the tag of being runner-up and purse of INR 10.0 Crore.