It's make or break for RCB

Virat Kohli's men take on fellow strugglers Gujarat Lions in crucial game

It's make or break for RCB

Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions, the top two teams at the end of the league phase of the previous edition of the Indian Premier League but laggards this season, lock horns in possibly a fate-deciding encounter here on Thursday.

With the league slowly crossing the half-way stage when the cream starts to separate from the milk, both RCB (5 points, 6th place) and the Lions (4 points, 8th place) find themselves at the  bottom and nothing less than a win at the Chinnaswamy Stadium would do them any good.

Things are going from bad to worse for the Challengers. They missed the services of skipper Virat Kohli and A B de Villiers for the early part of the season and even their return has failed to ignite the spark in a squad that appears lacking energy. Such has been their shoddy performance so far, they even slumped to one of the most embarrassing defeats in the history of the league.

A chance to redeem themselves in front of their adoring home fans too was vanquished when rain forced the abandonment of their game against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday night. It has been muggy since then and with one or two spells of rain/ thundershowers forecast till Friday, the Challengers would be praying weathergods show some mercy.

While rain may not be in their control, performance and attitude certainly are and they will perforce have to be at their best as any more slips ups could simply spell doom considering the immense competition for the four play-off spots. Possessing some world-class players in their ranks and having staged a similar turnaround last year, they will have to take the field with confidence and self-belief.

Two major contributors in their turnaround last season were the stunning shows of skipper Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, who plundered runs at will. They were ably supported by domestic talents K L Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan.

RCB is sorely missing them. Top-order batsman Mandeep Singh and all-rounder Stuart Binny — both have played all the games this season — have been a complete letdown with Kedar Jadhav firing only in fits and starts. Mandeep is averaging 10.83 while Binny is just a shade better at 19.25 and both their strike rates too arent anything to shout home about.

It’s no secret that for a team to be successful in IPL, the domestic players have to fire along with the superstars and unless RCB’s supporting cast takes up more responsibility, they may end up battling to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Lions, just like RCB, have been struggling, especially on the bowling front. Their batsmen have been up to the challenge but the bowlers simply haven't stood up, even conceding 213 runs the last time they clashed with RCB. They've neither picked wickets nor have stemmed the flow of runs, resulting in five losses.

Both teams will be wary of the pitch as well that has surprisingly gone dry this season and made shot-making a bit difficult. The wicket will be challenging and with teams desperately searching for a win, a good game is in the offing.

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