IPL play-off: Batting might holds the key

IPL play-off: Batting might holds the key

n If any of the Final, the Eliminator, Qualifier 1 or Qualifier 2 matches are tied, or there is no result, the following shall apply: n Teams shall c

IPL play-off: Batting might holds the key

The Royal Challengers Bangalore’s affair with the Indian Premier League has been, at some level, akin to that of Novak Djokovic’s with the French Open. Other than RCB, no team that has made the final twice — they have also been in the play-offs on two other occasions — in the IPL has been without a trophy and no player, barring Djokovic, that has reached the final at Roland Garros thrice, besides three semifinals, has returned without being crowned a winner.

While Djokovic may have to wait for almost a fortnight to wipe off this dubious distinction, RCB’s fate will be known in less than a week’s time though both know that this is perhaps their best time to get the monkey off their backs.

With just two wins after 10 matches, RCB knew they had to win all their remaining four matches to have a place in the play-offs. It’s not something unprecedented in IPL though. Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians had all bounced back from the brink to capture the title in the past. The Royal Challengers, however, hadn’t shown such staying spirit when pushed to the corner. Despite boasting some of the best batting talent in the world, the Bengaluru outfit appeared to be lacking that killer instinct which is reflected in the absence of a title.

This time though they seem to be the favourites to lay hands on that elusive silverware -- not because they have the most balanced outfit among the four teams in the play-offs — they are in fact far from it — but because they have shown the resilience and the combative spirit of a cornered tiger.

No one has embodied this character better than Virat Kohli, the Orange Cap holder for the highest number of runs (919 at 91.90). He has been the catalyst -- with no little help from AB de Villiers, KL Rahul and Chris Gayle -- behind the team’s resurgence that has seen them string together four successive wins en route to play-offs. With an unprecedented four centuries in a single season, he has been the backbone of their batting both while chasing and setting up a target.

Such has been their domination towards the business end of the league that they managed to finish second and gift themselves a second chance to enter final in case they suffer a reversal at the hands of table toppers Gujarat Lions in the first Qualifier here at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday. While batting has been RCB’s overwhelming strength, in a pleasant twist, their bowling conjured up its best performance yet of the season in their final league tie against Delhi Daredevils who were restricted to a tricky 138 that RCB laboured, given the high standards they have set for themselves, to overhaul.

Knowing how the previous encounter between these two sides panned out, it would be tempting to write off Lions’ chances but this is a format that cares little about form and reputation -- past or present. The contest against Lions 10 days ago was the rallying point for RCB who laid bare their batting might with Kohli and de Villiers notching up a ton each in a record partnership.

RCB have grown in strength from that match onwards while Lions have not allowed the scars of that big defeat affect them adversely. The return of skipper Suresh Raina seems to have done a world of good to Lions’ fortunes and confidence. Teetering on the edge of uncertainty despite eight wins, Lions pulled off two successive victories on the back of Raina’s half-centuries that ensured debutants the top finish in the eight-team league.

Not unlike RCB, the Lions too bank heavily on their batting with the likes of Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Aaron Finch and Raina packing plenty of firepower while all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo provide depth. It will be a fascinating contest between two batting-heavy sides at a venue where RCB enjoy unstinted crowd support.
DH News Service


If any of the Final, the Eliminator, Qualifier 1 or Qualifier 2 matches are tied, or there is no result, the following shall apply:
Teams shall compete in a Super Over to determine the winner.
If conditions do not permit a Super Over within the time available or if the Super Over is tied, then the team which, at the end of the season, finished in the higher position in the league table will be deemed the winner of that play-off match.

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