The Indian Premier League heads to Ahmedabad for the first time this season on Friday for Qualifier 2 between the Rajasthan Royals and the Royal Challengers Bangalore with the winners knowing they will face the Gujarat Titans in the final on Sunday.
The losers will be done for the second so the stakes are very high here, especially for the Rajasthan Royals who have already coughed up one chance to make the final and will not want to do what Delhi Capitals did last year and fail to take advantage of two bites of the cherry.
To be fair to the Rajasthan Royals, they didn’t do a huge amount wrong in the Qualifier 1 match against the Titans. It might well be that the worst thing they did was to lose the toss because as they found out, defending a score at Eden Gardens is not the easiest thing to do, neither is knowing what sort of score is defendable. It is important that they shrug that off and focus on what is in front of them and not put untold pressure on themselves.
There were positives in that Qualifier match. Their batters who they will need to be at the party in this match made some runs so they are in good form. That is important because we know that their bowlers have generally been fine throughout the competition and they should be suited to the wicket here in Ahmedabad. If there is a focus for Rajasthan it might be on finishing matches well because once or twice they have let teams get away from them at the end.
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Royal Challengers Bangalore will go into this match full of confidence. The reason for that is they had to win their final match of the regular season to get into these finals and then they were playing knockout cricket from the start. They held themselves together well and delivered a confidence boosting display to overcome the Lucknow Super Giants and book their spot in this Qualifier 2 match. Now they will be eyeing up a shot at the title.
Bangalore will know that in their final league match of the season they beat the Gujarat Titans so if they can set up a clash with them in the final they will be feeling very good about proceedings. If there is a cause for concern from the Eliminator it would be that only one player looked in any real sort of nick in the top four and were he to fail in this game you wonder what they will have up their sleeve. The positive is their bowling should be suited to the conditions here.
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Yuzvendra Chahal goes up against his former franchise here and on a pitch which has been known to offer something for the spinners in the past he’ll be licking his lips. Rajasthan need the leg spinner to maintain control of the run rate in the middle overs as well as pick up wickets.
Wanindu Hasaranga was inspired in the field in the Eliminator on Wednesday but it will be his leg spin which is likely to come to the party in this match. If he can take care of a couple of members of this Rajasthan middle order it will help his side to make the final.
Those who followed our outright advice for this tournament are effectively on the Rajasthan Royals at 9/2 to win this match as they were my pick for the winners of the competition. I’m happy to let that ride in this game but I would understand anyone who wanted to cash out or secure a profit from that bet. I do think that Rajasthan are the better of the two sides here if they play to their best. I’ll head to the side markets for a bet on this match.
The boundaries line for this match is 40.5 which if you based your bets on what we’ve seen in the finals so far you’d have no problem getting on the over but this isn’t Eden Gardens. This is Motera and I’m not convinced the boundaries will flow as regularly here. The two matches between these two have yielded 42 boundaries at the Wankhede and 30 in Pune so they haven’t been bludgeoning the boundaries and in a match where everything is on the line I don’t see players playing with too much freedom. There could be 16 quality overs of spin in this match and both teams have a class act with the new ball. On a pitch which can be a little sluggish and a fairly big outfield I think we’ll stay under the boundaries line here.
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