RCB and South Australia vie for last semi-final spot
Royal Challengers Bangalore v South Australia, October 5, Bangalore
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
The final Champions League Twenty20 semi-final spot will be decided by the result of the last league game. A win will do for both sides, though Royal Challengers Bangalore would want the victory margin to be big enough to take their net run-rate past the Warriors in case they lose narrowly to Somerset. Both teams will know exactly what to do as they play last but the Royal Challengers will still need their bowlers to defend well, something they have failed to do for two-and-a-half of their three games.
While the Royal Challengers' dependence on Chris Gayle reached unhealthy proportions during the IPL itself, what has hurt them more in this tournament has been the inability of their bowlers to use the weight of runs to exert pressure. They finally managed to get it right against Somerset and managed to hold them off after a nervy first half of the chase.
The small boundaries and quick outfield of the Chinnaswamy Stadium do make it a tough ground to defend totals, something Daniel Vettori has acknowledged. But three straight losses at the toss haven't helped the Royal Challengers and Vettori will be hoping for more luck on that front against South Australia. They will also hope that the weather forecast of clear skies holds good, but having experienced the fickleness of the Bangalore rain on numerous occasions now, they won't be betting against a washout.
South Australia wouldn't wish for rain either, having already had their game against Somerset in Bangalore abandoned. They have jettisoned their three-spinner combination for these conditions, an approach that gave them their only win against Kolkata Knight Riders. They had spoken of coming back with intensity and bravery after their opening loss to the Warriors. If Gayle clicks again, they'll need the ability to hang in there as well.
Watch out for …
After two indifferent outings, Dirk Nannes responded strongly in the crucial match against Somerset, troubling them with pace, nip, bounce and his left-arm angle. His working over of Jos Buttler was skillful and relentless. Also helping him was the moisture in the pitch due to the rain earlier. To face his countrymen will be added motivation for him.
Callum Ferguson is a batsman who likes to time the ball more than bludgeon it. He showed that he could shift gears effortlessly, though, against the Knight Riders in Hyderabad, moving from 23 off 24 to 70 off 40, clearing the longer boundaries at that ground quite comfortably. The ball has come on better at the Chinnaswamy, something he should enjoy.
South Australia have settled on a bowling attack of two spinners and two seamers. Shaun Tait hasn't been part of that combination after a poor first game. Given the size of the boundaries and the speed of the outfield in Bangalore, they would not want to risk playing him and should be fielding an unchanged side.
The Royal Challengers brought in Arun Karthik to free Tillakaratne Dilshan of the wicketkeeping responsibilities against Somerset. They also persisted with Raju Bhatkal and Syed Mohammad. The same XI could be playing tomorrow.
Stats and trivia
- Three of the five highest totals in this tournament have been scored in Bangalore
- Daniel Vettori has been the Royal Challengers' best bowler by some distance, his five wickets coming at 6.50 runs per over
"One mistake any team can make is to plan too much just for Gayle. Their top four is good and even in the middle they have some good players. Virat Kohli, Dilshan and [Saurabh] Tiwary are all playing really well."
Michael Klinger says that South Australia have not been thinking only about Gayle
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo