Smarting Challengers look to seal berth in play-offs

Smarting Challengers look to seal berth in play-offs

Virat Kohli's men will look at this game in isolation with set plans against everyone on the opposite end. Credit: Sportzpics, BCCI

Royal Challengers Bangalore started their Indian Premier League campaign by leaping over a hurdle posed by Sunrisers Hyderabad on September 21. On October 31 (Saturday), they have a chance to stand on the shoulders of the same opponent to peer into the play-offs.

Although there was no way of telling that their victory in the opener was a sign of things to come, it did become so in that they are now a win away from making it to their first play-offs in four seasons. And that’s about the only scenario Virat Kohli would like to pay attention to at this point.

Of course, finishing inside the top two gives them an added shot at making it to the final, lending their last league game against Delhi Capitals (on November 2) some purpose, but their immediate focus will be to qualify. Given SRH’s run this season, it shouldn’t be too hard.

Besides a couple of victories of note, including their last one - an 88-run demolition of Capitals - Sunrisers haven’t played to potential. Resultantly, they are seventh on the points table with five wins from 12 games.

For a team which has consistently made the play-offs over the last five seasons, this probably comes as a shock. But should they win their last two league games and RCB, Capitals and Kings XI Punjab falter, they can still squeeze out a final-four spot. Unlikely, but it’s the IPL!

If nothing else, SRH can get a kick out of ruining the fate of teams who have done enough to enjoy better odds. For example, RCB.

After three years of meandering with the bottom-feeders, Kohli’s men have finally looked a good product on the field. They have always had decent enough rosters at the end of the auctions, but ill-advised combinations and a lack of execution from the personnel entrusted has let them down.

This time around, the pieces have settled in nicely, and Kohli’s captaincy too seems to have evolved. While he still has trouble understanding fields and bowling combinations occasionally, he has begun to trust his men to do the job. More importantly, he shows faith and patience when they don’t. Precisely why it won’t tug at his strings as they come into this contest with consecutive losses behind them.

Kohli, and subsequently his fellow men, will look at this game in isolation with set plans against everyone on the opposite end. SRH and RCB have played each a fair bit to know what works and what doesn’t. RCB were, obviously, too far at sea to make a game out of any contest not so long ago. Now, they are in a position to push SRH off the plank even on a not-so-good day. That’s how far they have come, and they will want to go further.