RCB look to end on winning note

RCB look to end on winning note

With an eye on Champions League berth, Challengers take on Chargers today

RCB look to end on winning note

Deccan Chargers players during their semifinal match against Chennai Super Kings on Thursday. AP

The management teams of Ray Jennings-Anil Kumble and Darren Lehmann-Adam Gilchrist will find the going a little easier in that regard because Saturday’s face-off between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers is anything but meaningless.

Admittedly, both sides are still smarting from not making it to the final of IPL III, but the finalists of last year still have one major milestone to aim for – a place in the Champions League that is the right of the third-placed team too in this competition.

It is difficult to say which of the two is hurting more after respective semifinal debacles. The Challengers have had more time to reflect on their 35-run loss to the Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, while the Chargers’ wounds will still be fresh and festering after their woeful inability to chase down a modest 142 against the Chennai Super Kings on Thursday night.

Inasmuch as the conditions demanded careful watching and astute thinking, the Chargers floundered badly, their planning awry and their execution of those plans even less impressive.

Gilchrist’s excuse of the focus being on not losing early wickets as explanation for their crawling start – 19 without loss in the first five overs – sounded a little hollow. There was a distinct lack of intent in the early stages through Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs, leaving the overworked Andrew Symonds with too much to do and too little for company in terms of batting strength.

The Chargers, though, can ill-afford to introspect for more than a brief while; apart from trying to learn from their mistakes of the previous night and ensuring that there is no repeat on the morrow, there is little they stand to gain if they keep reflecting on what might have been.

The Challengers have reason to believe there is unfinished business so far as their head-to-head against the Chargers is concerned.

Kumble’s band has lost three consecutive battles to the Hyderabad-based team which has been termed ‘homeless’ by its skipper in reference to the lack of one designated home venue, including last edition’s final. This is as good a time as any to pull one back and make up for the bitter taste of defeat in last year’s summit clash, as well as their loss to the Indians in the semifinals two nights back.

The DY Patil stadium is unlikely to be a buzzing, throbbing bee-hive of activity on Saturday. The second semifinal on Thursday wasn’t well received either though this venue was one of the Chargers’ ‘homes’ in the league phase; the lack of life and adrenaline in the stands will come as a further dampener for the players if they mope about having to settle for a smaller slice of the pie.

The Challengers’ practice session was restricted to just one hour on Friday morning due to less than good facilities at the MCA-run BKC. That shouldn’t necessarily hamper their preparations because all teams have played more than enough cricket in the lead-up to this phase of the competition.

Both the Chargers and the Challengers have been involved in Champions League action, and by the looks of it, it was a fruitful involvement even if neither team progressed beyond the first stage. Which one of them is hungrier, and has recovered more quickly from semifinal disaster, will be interesting to see.

Teams (from): Deccan Chargers: Adam Gilchrist (capt), Mohnish Mishra, T Suman, Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds, Dwayne Smith, B Sumanth, Ryan Harris, Harmeet Singh, Rudra Pratap Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Herschelle Gibbs, VVS Laxman, Chaminda Vaas, Rahul Sharma, Y Venugopala Rao, Azhar Bilakhia, Jaskaran Singh.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Anil Kumble (capt), Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Kevin Pietersen, Rahul Dravid, Robin Uthappa, Cameron White, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, R Vinay Kumar, Dale Steyn, Ross Taylor, KP Appanna, Roelof van der Merwe, Mark Boucher, B Akhil, Pankaj Singh, A Mithun.