"We needed another team. Now it's all on us," Glenn Maxwell said as Royal Challengers Bangalore celebrated making it to the playoffs. It is a sentiment that would have really resonated with his team-mates. Everybody appreciates a second chance but players of the quality of Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Josh Hazlewood tend to know exactly what to do to make the most of it. Kohli, in particular, will be thrilled that he has something tangible to play for especially now that he's finally hit form.
By building a team of allrounders, Lucknow Super Giants have been able to find a way out of a lot of tough spots, but the one thing they haven't been able to shake is an extreme reliance on their top order. KL Rahul (537 runs at 48.8), Quinton de Kock (502 runs at 38.6), and Deepak Hooda (406 runs at 31.2) have carried a line-up where the others have collectively contributed only 789 runs at 17.2.
A weakness that glaring would have pulled a lot of teams out of playoff contention, but Super Giants are here because their bowling has been exceptional. They took 96 wickets in the league stage at an average of 23.8 and strike rate of 17.1. They're No. 1 in each of those metrics.
In the news
Krunal Pandya missed Super Giants' last league game with a niggle. He's had almost a week's worth of recovery time. If it isn't a serious injury, he should be back in the playing XI.
Harshal Patel split the webbing on his bowling hand and his stitches came off on Tuesday. He should be fit for the game, he said on the team's YouTube channel. In case he doesn't make it, Akash Deep could take his place.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Virat Kohli, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Shahbaz Ahmed, 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Harshal Patel/Akash Deep, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Lucknow Super Giants: 1 Quinton de Kock (wk), 2 KL Rahul (capt), 3 Deepak Hooda, 4 Krunal Pandya, 5 Ayush Badoni, 6 Marcus Stoinis, 7 Jason Holder, 8 Avesh Khan, 9 Dushmantha Chameera, 10 Mohsin Khan, 11 Ravi Bishnoi
Maxwell has had a fairly fun time bowling to Rahul in T20 cricket: 23 balls, 23 runs and two wickets. Royal Challengers will be hoping the trend continues on Wednesday.
Stats that matter
- Eden Gardens has hosted 16 IPL matches over the last four years and in each and every one of them the captain winning the toss has opted to bowl. Nine of those games have resulted in victories. The average first innings score here, since IPL 2018, is 183.
- Super Giants are yet to win a single match against the teams that have qualified for the playoffs in this year. So perhaps they'll take heart that they are facing the bowling attack that has conceded the most sixes in IPL 2022 - RCB with 123 - on a ground that has the highest sixes per match ratio (17) since IPL 2018.
- Following up on a breakthrough 2021 season, Avesh Khan has yet again picked up at least five wickets in every phase of a T20 game. He's the only player in IPL history to do it twice.
- This has been the year of Dinesh Karthik. He has the best death-overs strike rate (226.37) in the IPL (min 50 balls faced). It's helped him find his way back into the Indian team. And now he has the trophy in his sights. Given all that you wouldn't put it past him to correct his playoffs record which currently reads: 246 runs in 15 innings at an average of 16.4 and strike rate of 107.
- There has been a distinct difference in Rahul this season when he has batted first (425 runs at an average of 85 and strike rate of 149) and when he has batted second (112 runs at an average of 18.7 and strike rate of 101). His whole team has been having the same hang-up. Super Giants have lost four of the six games they've had to chase in this campaign.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo