Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals will clash in the Eliminator – the second of the Pepsi IPL 2015 Playoff matches. The equation for both teams is fairly straightforward: win and remain in the hunt for the title, or lose and pack your bags.
Both teams have been hard done by the weather at some point in time during the tournament. In their most recent outing, rain washed out RCB’s run-chase against the Delhi Daredevils and denied them the chance to take two points which would have ensured a second-place finish in the standings. RCB finished the league season with 16 points – 14 of them from their seven wins and two points from the two washed out fixtures. Unlike a few other teams, RCB have not stitched together a series of wins consistently; the most they have won on the bounce is two games. If they can improve on their performance and string together three wins starting now, they will end up taking home the coveted IPL trophy.
The Rajasthan Royals have had a topsy-turvy season. From dominating their opponents and topping the table in the first few weeks of the season, they suddenly lost the momentum after losing the Super Over contest against Kings XI Punjab. It did not help their cause that the weather followed them and denied them the chance to compete in two matches. The situation then came down to them having to defeat the Kolkata Knight Riders on the penultimate day of the league stage to progress to the Playoffs. And they did that in style, with Shane Watson scoring a century at the top of the innings and helping his team to 199-6, after which the bowlers restricted the defending champions to 190-9.
20 May 2015, 8p.m. IST
MCA International Stadium, Pune
The names of Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Shane Watson should feature among the most destructive batsmen in the world today; all three players have at some point in the tournament won matches single-handedly for their team, and will be expected to get among the runs yet again. Ajinkya Rahane too has been batting like a dream, accumulating runs playing the conventional brand of cricket; if he gets among the runs yet again, RR will find themselves in a position of strength.
The two new-ball bowlers on either side - Mitchell Starc for RCB and Chris Morris for RR – are the strike bowlers for the two teams and will be expected to provide breakthroughs early.
Contests to look-forward to
RCB’s Mitchell Starc bowling to the RR top three, which includes two of his Australian teammates – Shane Watson and Steve Smith – is a contest that promises to be interesting.
RR’s Chris Morris bowling to RCB’s Chris Gayle is another interesting battle to look forward to; the South African quick is coming off some impressive performances recently – 4/23 v KKR and 3/19 v CSK – and will look to impose himself on the RCB opener. On the numbers front, Morris has done well against left-handers too; seven of his 12 wickets in Pepsi IPL 2015 have been of left-hand batsmen.
The head to head between RCB & RR stands at seven wins apiece and one washed out fixture.
In the first of the meetings between the two teams this season, RCB cruised to a comfortable nine-wicket win in Ahmedabad. After opting to field first, they restricted the home side to 130-9, thanks to clinical performance from the bowlers. Virat Kohli (62*) and AB de Villiers (47*) then took the team past the finish line with nearly four overs to spare.
The return fixture – played in Bengaluru on 29 April 2015 – was washed out midway through the contest. After being put in to bat, RCB posted 200-7, thanks to cameos from the middle-order. AB de Villiers, batting at three, was the top-scorer of the innings with 57, while young Sarfaraz Khan’s unbeaten 21-ball 45 ensured the home side touched the 200-run mark. The skies opened up during the interval between innings and did not relent, forcing the match to be declared as ‘No Result’.
This is the third season that the Rajasthan Royals have finished the season among the top four teams; they had finished at the top of the table in 2008, and finished 3rd in the 2013 season. Royal Challengers Bangalore have finished in the top four on three occasions previously – in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have the best overall scoring rate in Pepsi IPL 2015 – 9.40.
5 of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s 7 wins this season have been in run-chases. Batting first, RCB have won two of their three matches this season.
The Rajasthan Royals have conceded the most runs through extras this season. In the 13 innings they have bowled, they have conceded a total of 134 runs through extras (80 runs through wides, 10 no balls, 33 leg byes and 11 byes).
In the three Pepsi IPL 2015 matches played in Pune, the totals posted by the team batting first were: 162-7, 165-7 and 155-9.
Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson, & Chris Gayle & Virat Kohli, have both scored 482 runs as opening pairs this season. The former have scored the runs in eight innings, while the latter have done it in 11 outings.
The winner of this contest will proceed to Ranchi, to take on the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 2, scheduled to be played on May 22. For the loser, it will be the end of the road where Pepsi IPL 2015 is concerned; apart from the many fond memories from the tournament and the many bonds forged during the season, they will take home a purse of INR 7.5 Crore as reward for the competitive cricket they played.