Royal Challengers Bangalore have been one of the most consistent IPL teams over the past three seasons. They are the only team to have reached the Champions League T20 every year so far, reached the finals of the IPL twice, but still have no trophy to show for their efforts. Their captain Daniel Vettori said he hoped the incredible last-ball win over South Australia which helped the Royal Challengers squeak into the semi-finals would be just the boost the team needed to land their first title.
“I think everyone was pretty exhilarated after the game [against South Australia], there was a lot of excitement within the dressing room,” Vettori said a day before their semi-final against New South Wales. “RCB has come so close to a title for a number of years now, we’re sort of hoping that after a game like that yesterday, we will continue that form and go on and achieve the big one.”
The win provided even more of a lift since it was achieved with only a bit-part role from their perennial match-winner Chris Gayle. “It was Virat [Kohli] and [Tillakaratne] Dilshan who did the majority of the work,” Vettori said. “I know Chris has been amazing for us, but to see two other guys step up, their partnership was just incredible, and then little cameos all the way along, it was a real team effort. I think that’s the thing that probably brings the most confidence to the side.”
One thing that has been a downer for Royal Challengers is their fielding, with catches going down in every match. “I think our ground fielding is getting a little better, but it’s the catching that people remember, and unfortunately that has let us down. All we can do is work hard on it and keep talking to the guys about trying to relax and improve on what they have done because there is no point getting tough on anyone because that will make them more nervous.”
Vettori’s team’s main challenge in the semi-final will be to keep New South Wales’ big-hitting opening pair of Shane Watson and David Warner quiet. “They are crucial to NSW’s success. We saw what Warner did in the last game and everyone is aware of how good Watson is, so they will probably be our main focus going into the game. We will try to work out ways of getting into that middle order who are still very experienced and very good, but not as destructive as their two top guys.”
New South Wales captain Simon Katich was satisfied with the performance of his middle-order. “We got tested against Mumbai when we were 28 for 5,” Katich said. “The boys had a good partnership there and put on 70 in tough conditions against a very good attack.” The track at the Chinnaswamy has generally favoured the chasing side, but the range of scores have varied widely - Trinidad & Tobago nearly defended 98, while South Australia couldn’t win despite posting 214. Katich said the key in Twenty20 was being flexible in the sort of total the team was looking to put up. “I think we saw that in Chennai the other night when David Warner batted the way he did,” Katich said. “I don’t think anyone expected to get 200 on the board given the way the wicket had been throughout the tournament. Just goes to show that you can’t have a preconceived idea of what a good total is. There’s no point planning to go and get 140 if the wicket might end up being better than that. You just don’t know until you get out there and play on it.”
New South Wales haven’t played in Bangalore in this tournament, while the Royal Challengers have plenty of experience of the Chinnaswamy deck, but Katich hoped that wouldn’t have much of impact in the semi-final. “There’s nothing we can do about that. We’ve played all our games in Chennai. It’s part of the draw. We knew that and we’re just going to have to deal with it.”