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Wednesday 20 May 2015

Eliminator Battle Royale - RCB vs RR

#RCB vs #RR
#MCA Stadium, Pune
20th May 2015

After a stunning performance by #MI yesterday to beat #CSK and qualify for the IPL final on Sunday, the attention now moves to #Eliminator where two "Royal" teams face each other to move ahead in the competition. Winners of this contest will meet #CSK in Qualifier 2 at Ranchi on 22nd May 2015.

So, how does it look for both teams?

Their road to the finals have been like the "hare" who rushed ahead in the race only to stumble, crawl and just make it over the line at the last minute. After a glorious start to their campaign this year (5 straight wins), they ran into KXIP and a super over (in a game they should have won easily in regulation time). The Super over lottery was won by KXIP and it marked a remarkable turn of fortunes for RR where they started looking scrappy, scratchy and disjoint that point onwards. Perhaps that loss took a lot of their momentum and motivation out. A couple of washed out games made it difficult for them to gain full points in some games but in the end, it must be said, their opening dash helped them cross the line to qualify from 4th place in the points table.

A batting heavy side - Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Sanju Samson, Deepak Hooda have scored well throughout and will challenge the RCB bowling lineup. Bowling seems to be their weakest link and that will be thoroughly tested by Gayle, Virat, Devilliers and Co. Chris Morris has been their best bowler but James Faulkner, Watson, spinners haven't been able to really tie opposition teams down or get wickets regularly. This will remain their biggest concern and Rahul Dravid (chief coach) will have to plan their strategy accordingly.

They have been up and down too. Not known to be good starters, this season hasnt been different either. But, they have bounced back very well in spite of bad weather causing their last three games to be curtailed or abandoned. They have just done enough to scrape through to third position in the points table. The top three's indifferent form earlier in the league made it difficult to set or chase targets but that seems to be sorted out now and that's what makes them deadly dangerous.

Bowling is brilliantly led by Mitchell Starc but he needs good support from Arvind, Chahal, Patel and others to stop the RR top order from running away with a big total. Batting will rely heavily on the top three - Gayle-Virat-ABD but others need to step up to plate and score well if any of these three were to fail. 

Interestingly, both sides are languishing at the bottom (#6 RCB and #7 RR) of the fairplay award table. This indicates both sides are volatile and a moment away from behavioral madness. Watson can get under anyone's skin with his Aussie sledging while Virat ka gussa is well documented all over!

All in all, looks like a spicy contest on our hands.
Remember loser of this game packs its bags. No second chances. Its all to play for.

Who will win?
Time will tell.
All the best to both teams.

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