Challengers take on charged-up Hyderabad

Challengers take on charged-up Hyderabad

Chargers outpunched Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings in successive matches to swell their tally to 10 points with three games to go, while the Bangalore side drubbed Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday to avert a fall to the lower rungs.
Now, the defending champions and runners-up will face each other – for the second time in four days – at the VCA stadium in Jamtha here on Monday, and the match promises to be a thrill-a-second affair. That’s not only because of the recent results but it also has a lot to do with their approach.

For the Royal Challengers, victory over the Knight Riders was mandatory after their defeat to Chargers, and that appeared a distant dream when Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle tormented them with sparkling stroke play up front. But the dismissal of Gayle presented the Challengers a chance to apply the brakes and they did it with perfection, eventually restricting the Kolkatans to an achievable total.

The swiftness with which they grabbed the opportunity reflected their desire to win, not so surprising by a team under the stewardship of Anil Kumble, and the visitors will have to come up with an equally spirited show on the morrow against the Chargers, on a roll after two consecutive wins.

Manish Pandey, who made way for Sridharan Sriram against KKR, might return to the playing eleven and any further change to the line-up looks unlikely at this stage. R Vinay Kumar’s return to wicket-taking ways will certainly boost the confidence of the RCB management.

The Karnataka man had appeared a bit short on gas in a few outings but against the Knight Riders, the pacer was his customary crafty self, varying the pace and using the short balls judiciously to confound the batsmen.  
But it will be a tougher challenge against the Chargers. The Hyderabad outfit has put behind their disappointing five-match losing streak and now seem to have regained their rhythm.

Prior to their assignment against RCB at the Chinnswamy stadium, the Chargers needed victory in five remaining matches if they were to reach the semifinals. So far, they have kept themselves afloat with two wins in as many matches, but that’s only the initial part of the job.

However, the way they have approached a difficult task is admirable. Adam Gilchrist’s men seemed to have made a soul-searching and serious study about the areas in which they went wrong in the early part of the campaign. Consequently, there is a change in their attitude and more than anyone, Andrew Symonds has mirrored the transformation.

The Australian seems more determined to stay at the crease and take his side home as he has done against RCB and CSK, a perfect and potent blend of brain and brawn. Their Indian component too has started contributing more consistently over the last two matches, another soothing factor for the Chargers think-tank.
During their victories over Chennai and Bangalore, T Suman and Pragyan Ojha provided some telling inputs and the Chargers bigwigs will be hoping for an encore. And when these quality sides meet the mercury levels in the city, now hovering around 45, is bound to soar higher.

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