RCB on course for play-off berth; Royals look to stay afloat with win - GulfToday

RCB on course for play-off berth; Royals look to stay afloat with win


Royal Challengers Bangalore players at a practice session ahead of their match against Chennai Super Kings on Sunday. Courtesy: Twitter

Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter

A rampant Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to book their berth in the play-offs with a victory over a struggling Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match on Sunday.

Bangalore are at the third spot with 14 points from 10 games and need just one win to qualify for the knock-out stages.

Bangalore, who have never won an IPL title, are in scintillating form and look one of the most serious contenders for the crown this time around.

Bangalore’s strength has been a star-studded batting line-up which features captain Virat Kohli, De Villiers, Aaron Finch and Devdutt Padikkal.

Both Kohli and De Villiers are in stupendous form and can blow away any bowling attack on a given day. While De Villiers steered Bangalore to victories almost single-handedly against Kolkata and Rajasthan Royals. The South African struck a 33-ball 73 to light up the Sharjah Stadium against Kolkata before smacking another 22-ball 55 against Rajasthan to take the game away from the Steve Smith-led team.

Kohli, who was struggling in the beginning of the tournament, found his rhythm and moved to fifth in the list of the highest scorers, having scored 365 runs with two fifties. Finch and Padikkal have already showed their form, with both chipping in with useful contributions.

Despite Bangalore’s batsmen winning them matches, in their last match against Kolkata, it was their bowlers who stole the show with outstanding performances.

Mohammed Siraj bowled a breathtaking spell to return with figures of 3-8 as Bangalore trounced Kolkata. Siraj wreaked havoc with a fiery first spell that saw a slew of records being broken. Besides the 26-year-old Indian quick, Bangalore’s bowling has been bolstered by the inclusion of Chris Morris, a specialist death bowler.

On the other hand, Chennai are at the bottom of the standings with just six points from their 11 games. They were mauled by Mumbai, losing by ten wickets their last match which ended their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.

Their batting has completely flopped barring one or two good innings by Faf du Plessis.

Captain MS Dhoni, who is under fire both for his form and leadership, had already conceded that they are not in the race for the title after losing their previous game against Rajasthan Royals.

Their middle-order received a premature jolt when Suresh Raina pulled out of the tournament well before it began. Chennai, therefore, will be playing to salvage their pride.

Meanwhile, Mumbai will also look to book a knock-out berth when they take on Rajasthan Royals, who are at the seventh spot in the eight-team league.

Mumbai have knocked down pace-setters Delhi from the top of the standings with an emphatic 10-wicket win against a beleaguered Chennai in a lopsided match on Friday. They also need just one victory to book a play-off berth.

Mumbai are in stupendous form and have lost just three matches so far in this edition in 10 outings. Two of them went into Super Over against Bangalore and Punjab.

Mumbai’s top order, which features Rohit Sharma, Quinton De Kock is complemented by a very formidable middle-order. Towards the end, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya can add quick runs to propel the score to a fighting total.

Mumbai’s pace trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Patt Cummins have been instrumental in their winning run at the IPL so far.

Mumbai bowling coach Shane Bond was full of adulation for all three of them and expressed his delight at working with the quicks.

Rajasthan, who need to win all their remaining matches to move into the next round, will look to remain afloat with a win. They have lost quite a few close encounters and are presently tied on the table with Punjab and Hyderabad -- all three with eight points apiece.

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