Since the inception of the Indian Premier League, the Royal Challengers Bangalore fans have been waiting to bring the trophy home.
In 2011 and 2016, when the team reached the final, the fans were confident of breaking the title jinx. However, the team ended up finishing runner-up on both occasions. But this time around, millions of RCB fans are dreaming again.
After making it to the playoffs, the Faf du Plessis-led side rode on Rajat Patidar’s unbeaten century and bowling efforts by Josh Hazlewood and Harshal Patel to defeat Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator at Eden Gardens on Thursday. And as the team takes on Rajasthan Royals at the Narendra Modi Stadium for the second qualifier on Friday, it has fuelled expectations for a long-awaited trophy.
While RCB looks to ride the momentum, it won’t be easy. This being the first fixture of the tournament in Ahmedabad, with the wicket untested and with very little time to train, both the sides may find it challenging to gauge the surface. And with a level playing field, the contest gets even more exciting.
Rajasthan Royals has a formidable batting unit, with Jos Buttler and captain Sanju Samson leading the pack. After failing to defend a 180-plus total against Gujarat Titans in the first qualifier, the team will be eager to regroup quickly.
After a series of poor outings, Buttler initially struggled to get going against Titans, and took quite a bit of time before hitting a few big shots and reaching his half-century. But in a do-or-die game, the team needs to ensure that Buttler regains his touch.
While the middle-order is heavily reliant on the big-hitting abilities of Shimron Hetmyer, captain Sanju, too, needs to convert the 30s and 40s into a substantial knock. And the cricket fans will be gearing up to see how Sanju tackles RCB’s Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasaranga.
In the first qualifier, the Royals’ star-studded bowling unit struggled, with R. Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal going wicketless. Even the seasoned Prasidh Krishna looked off-colour as he failed to defend 16 runs in the final over. So, it will be a challenge for the Royals team management to ensure that the bowling department is not overwhelmed by the RCB batting firepower.
Brimming with confidence
The team from Bengaluru, obviously, is brimming with confidence after a convincing win against Super Giants, and the team will once again expect Patidar to come good. After going unsold in the auction, the Madhya Pradesh batter played the innings of his career at Eden Gardens as he tore into Lucknow’s bowlers.
But as the temperature soars in Ahmedabad, the RCB side needs to be cautious and ensure that complacency does not creep in.
The batting department will revolve around captain Faf du Plessis and Virat Kohli, while Dinesh Karthik will once again need to anchor the middle-order, along with the seasoned Glenn Maxwell. The team is likely to stick to the winning combination and ensure that there are no slip-ups. Over the last couple of seasons, RCB’s campaign ended in the playoffs, but now, there’s hope.
Ee Sala Cup Namde? Time will tell.