How can you beat Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore? How will you think about this when RCB have won four matches on the run? How can you stop the destructive force when, in all those four games, Virat Kohli has hammered 109, 75*, 113 and 54*? And how do you beat this Kohli-powered Royal Challengers squad, on their own turf, when your last attempt to do so actually resulted in the worst defeat in all IPL matches, by a massive 144 runs?
These questions will obviously preoccupy Gujarat Lions as they prepare for Tonight’s Qualifier 1. It’s really unusual for the table-toppers, who are just one win away from a berth in the final, to look like underdogs, but that is what Lions are.
Form guide (last five matches, most recent first)
Gujarat Lions – WWLWL
Royal Challengers Bangalore – WWWWL
The recent form also suggests who will boss the Qualifier 1 and it’s RCB way ahead, not because of the number of wins but the way they have won the last few matches.
For a table-topping side, Gujarat Lions have endured a unique sort of season, as only Kings XI Punjab, the bottom team, finishing the league stage with a worse net run rate than them. It shows the fact that Lions have suffered a few heavy defeats – including that humiliation at Royal Challengers’ hands – and won some exceedingly close matches, with 3 of their games stretching to the last ball. But the fact that Lions won all three of those last-ball finishes, as well as their one other match that went into the last over, would also claim that they have managed to win the crunch moments, certainly a welcome quality in any team.
So, how both the teams look like ahead of this thrilling fixture? Who will be the winner? Really a million dollar question. Let’s take a look at the key individual battles and rate the players who will set the roaring Chinnaswamy stadium on fire.
Virat Kohli vs Dwayne Bravo
Kohli smashed his maiden T20 hundred against Gujarat Lions, and it was Dwayne Bravo at the receiving end. A ruthless battle between IPL’s second highest run-scorer vs highest wicket-taker in T20s. And as we have seen in every other T20 clash, the batsman emerged victorious. In the second match between these two sides, Kohli emulated same mammoth innings; this time, he thrashed the bowlers with a devastating strike-rate of 198.18. Meanwhile, Bravo’s figures read 3-0-46-0. He conceded 3 more runs than the previous battle, without finishing his full quota. The kind of form Kohli is enjoying now, it will be obviously an uphill climb for Bravo to get the better of him.
Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 9/10
Dwayne Bravo (Gujarat Lions) – 5/10
Dwayne Smith vs Sreenath Aravind:
Smith has picked up 250 runs at an unbelievable average of 141.24 that also includes two blistering half-centuries. He has become one of the most significant aspects of Gujarat Lions’s top order. While Aravind has been clearly the cynosure of Royal Challengers Bangalore’s pace attack. He has scalped 9 wickets at an average of 19.22, in a batsman-friendly ruthless world of cricket, it is indeed very commendable. No doubt, Smith will look to go guns blazing from the very beginning and Aravind will be focusing on bowling tight line and length. Thus, it will be an interesting duel to watch who will have the last laugh.
Dwayne Smith (Gujarat Lions) – 6/10
Sreenath Arvind (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 8/10
AB de Villiers vs Ravindra Jadeja:
We have seen what de Villiers can do with his willow over the past few years, particularly against the spinners. He may have scored thousands of runs off them, but ultimately falls prey while eyeing to clear the boundary. Therefore, it’s expected he will be pit against the wily Jadeja.
Jadeja has a knack of trapping the batsman in the crease with his hide and seek arm ball. Though such crafty deliveries will not bother de Villiers too much, he may get dismissed for his habit of often closing the face of the bat too soon.
AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 8/10
Ravindra Jadeja (Gujarat Lions) – 6.5/10
Brendon McCullum vs Chris Jordon:
McCullum has so far managed 321 runs in 14 matches, at a decent strike-rate of 140.17. But, these numbers cannot speak volumes about his superlative batsmanship. Everyone is waiting for a big score from him and a high-octane game like this will be a perfect place to show his majestic dominance. He will be pit against RCB pacer Jordan. Given the fact McCullum fires on all cylinders right from the beginning, it will be very interesting to see how Jordon plans to keep McCullum well in control and changes his line and length according to the course of the match. He has so far this year picked up 6 wickets from 7 matches at an average of 31.16.
Brendan McCullum (Gujarat Lions) – 6.5/10
Chris Jordon (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 5/10
Suresh Raina vs Yuzvendra Chahal:
While Raina likes to take the leg-spinners to the cleaners, the in-form Chahal has been able to send the southpaws back to the dugout. And, stats say Raina has scored two consecutive half-centuries while Chahal has scalped 7 wickets in the last two matches. This battle is sure to offer the spectators the chance to sit on the edge of their seats.
Suresh Raina (Gujarat Lions) – 7/10
Yuzvendra Chahal (Royal Challengers Bangalore) – 8.5/10
Stats in spotlight:
Royal Challengers have hit 122 sixes this season, with Mumbai Indians a distant second on 92. Gujarat Lions have hit only 52 sixes, the fewest among all the teams.
Last time both the team met, Gujarat Lions had to suffer a massive 144 run defeat.
Lions (11.13) and Royal Challengers (10.71) have the worst economy rates in the last five overs among all teams this season.
Royal Challengers’ batsmen have made up for this by scoring at 12.79 in the last five overs while Lions have the worst last-five-overs run rate as well (8.67). They do, however, have the best Powerplay scoring rate, of 8.75.
So, be it the ratings or the stats – odds are firmly with Royal Challengers Bangalore.