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The Preview by Kanishkaa Balachandran
May 17, 2013
Match factsMay 18, 2013
Series/Tournaments: Indian Premier League
Big PictureRoyal Challengers Bangalore would have been glued to their television sets on Friday evening, following the fortunes of Sunrisers Hyderabad. They wouldn't have been feeling too good by the end of it, for Sunrisers' victory has made Royal Challengers' path to the playoffs harder. Royal Challengers are in a must-win situation against Chennai Super Kings at home on Saturday. If they achieve it, it will take them to 18 points and on par with Sunrisers. However, Sunrisers have one more game to play, on Sunday, and a win will take them to 20 and knock Royal Challengers out of the competition. Therefore, for Royal Challengers, they need to win, foremost, and then wait and watch.
For a side that was running on full steam till the start of May, it's bizarre that they find themselves in this situation. Two consecutive defeats, against Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab, has turned their quest for the playoffs into a last-minute scramble. If losing to the struggling Knight Riders was disappointing enough, the manner of their defeat to Kings XI at home - their first loss in Bangalore - would have been harder to digest. Should Royal Challengers and Sunrisers be tied on points, the former have the safety net of a superior net run rate.
Super Kings are already through to the playoffs but currently sit behind table-leaders Mumbai Indians. Both teams will play their final league games on Saturday. Having finished in the top two, Super Kings and Mumbai will face each other in the first qualifier. Stephen Fleming, the Super Kings coach, hinted at fielding a few players who haven't been given an opportunity yet, before the playoffs.
Form guideRoyal Challengers Bangalore LLWLW
In the spotlightA score of 174 against Kings XI should have been good enough to defend, but the Royal Challengers bowlers made a mess of it on Tuesday. That Kings XI chased it down with 11 balls to spare, with seven wickets in hand is an area of concern for the hosts. Bowling was identified as a weakness before this season and the franchise swiftly recruited fast bowlers at the auction. Muttiah Muralitharan went for a truckload of runs against Kings XI (44 off 4 overs) and there was little Vinay Kumar - their best bowler of the season - could do, as he went wicketless. If Royal Challengers are to set a target against Super Kings, anything less than 180 may not be safe enough, given the depth their opponents have.
Stats and trivia
QuotesIt (high-scoring games) has always been the case in Bangalore, hopefully if we could get the top-order wickets early on then we could control the runs and the game."
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Kanishkaa Balachandran
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