Final encounter is an ‘all South India’ affair : The clash for the title is set to be an ‘all South India affair’ with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to take on Sun Risers Hyderabad (SRH) at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, the home turf of RCB.
The heroics of the SRH skipper, David Warner, helped SRH get the better of Gujarat Lions (GL) in the second qualifier at the Firoz Shah Kotla, Delhi.
Warner’s unbeaten 93* off 58 balls with 11 fours and 3 sixes and his unbroken seventh-wicket partnership of 46*runs 3.3 overs alongwith the young Bipul Sharma (27*, 11b, 6*3) sealed the game in favour of SRH and gave them an entry into the final clash.
However, SRH have won the tournament title way back in 2009 under the then franchisee, Deccan Chargers, under the stewardship of Adam Gilchrist.
Both the teams, RCB and SRH, have the experience of being in the title clash. While SRH had crossed the line once, RCB is yet to do so. This is RCB’s third entry into the finals.
While both the teams have their respective strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities, what could work in favour of RCB is that the game would be played in their home ground and they would enjoy an enormous crowd/spectator support.
RCB skipper, Virat Kohli is in an excellent form having accumulated 919 runs from 15 games, remaining unbeaten on 4 occasions, at an average of 93.54 with 113 runs as his personal best. His strike rate has been 151.90 through the tournament, thus far, and has 4 centuries and 6 half-centuries to his credit.
In fact Kohli has single-handedly guided RCB through the league stage and helped them enter the knockout round.
His team mate and ‘partner in destruction’ of the opposition, AB de Villiers, has an accumulation of 682 runs from 15 games, remaining unbeaten on 3 occasions with 129* as his individual best. His strike rate of 170.07 is better even than that of Kohli. He also has a century and 6 half-centuries to his credit.
AB de Villiers played a very crucial part in the first qualifier when RCB took on GL at the same venue.
When the top and the middle order failed, de Villiers stood rock solid. His knock of an unbeaten 79* runs off 47 deliveries studded with 5 fours and 5 sixes and his unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 91* runs in 8.4 overs with the young Iqbal Abdullah (33*, 25b, 3*4, 1*6) helped RCB cross the line and enter the final stage.
The other explosive batsman Chris Gayle has faced only 112 deliveries in the tournament, thus far, and has one half-century. He had to miss quite a few games in the league stage due to personal reasons. He is yet to fire on all cylinders and the final game could be his day.
KL Rahul and Shane Watson also have had a decent outing in the tournament and are capable of bolstering the batting department.
However, RCB’s weakness lies in their bowling attack. Leggie Yuzvendra Chahal has been performing consistently and has bagged 20 wickets in his 12 innings at 8.10 economy.
Shane Watson also has been effective, claiming 20 wickets from 15 games at 7.42 economy.
However, the bowlers Srinath Arvind, Stuart Binny, Chris Rogers have been performing only in patches.
For SRH, their skipper, David Warner, who has led the team from the front through the tournament, is in excellent form and almost scored a century in the second qualifier.
The other batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan, Moises Henriques, Yuvraj Singh, Deepak Hooda have not shown consistency. However, Yuvraj striking form is a big positive for the team.
His 30-ball 44 runs with 8 fours and a six helped SRH to post a total of 162 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in 20 overs in the eliminator round against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
The bowling unit is definitely in a better shape with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Barinder Sran, Mustafizur Rehman, Moises Henruqies and the young Bipul Sharma, coming good and performing.
The final game is definitely a ‘clash of the titans’, with almost equal power but it’s just that RCB would be playing at home.
May the best team win.