CLT20 semi final spot on stake for Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Royal Challengers Bangalore will face the South Australia Redbacks in their final group stage match at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore, a virtual quarter final for them to make it to the semi final of Champions League T20.
Permutations and combinations notwithstanding, RCB’s 51 run win against Somerset has put them in a position from where all they need to progress is a win, no worries about the margin of victory such as the one that did CSK in against NSW Blues.
That said, no IPL team has beaten an Australian side in the three editions of CLT20 yet and South Australia are no pushovers. They were poor against Warriors, sliding to a 50 run defeat but came back strongly against KKR with the washout against Somerset giving them one very handy point.
RCB’s top order fired on Monday and that was enough for them to post the first 200 plus total of the tournament, a feat they will want to repeat against the Redbacks. Chris Gayle, the leitmotif of the team’s wins this year will face a tough opponent in Nathan Lyon, the off spinner who just had a brilliant debut series in Sri Lanka. But as skipper Daniel Vettori made clear post their win on Monday, RCB isn’t a one man team.
The other batsmen Dilshan, Kohli, Tiwary and Agarwal have so far hit runs to build around Gayle’s innings but will want to do one better with their own match winning knocks.
The performance of the bowlers is something that Vettori will be a lot more relaxed about. Scoreboard pressure or not, the Indian core of Aravind, Bhatkal and Syed Mohammad bowled sensibly to reign in the rampant Somerset batsmen and seal the game after a weak performance in the first half. Vettori himself kick started the process but Nannes’ good show will be a relief for him too especially considering how another left arm pacer Lonwabo Tsotsobe ran through the Redbacks top order for the Warriors.
The fielding still has room for improvement though; catches which could have ended the match earlier were put down and many easy singles were conceded to give Somerset what they got. It is something that will present their opposition an edge, a gift, in this very important match.
South Australia have a few terrific players themselves, among them are allrounder Daniel Christian, who was impressive for the Deccan Chargers in the 2011 IPL, finisher Callum Ferguson, opener allrounder Daniel Harris, the explosive Michael Klinger, spinner Aaron O’Brien, Dutch handyman Tom Cooper and tearaway fast bowler Shaun Tait who hasn’t even been able to make it to the playing XI.
Their batsmen can sustain high pressure on the opposition throughout the innings and they bat deep. Their army of medium pacers to take the pace off the ball, slow it down and make the batsmen put in all the effort and the pacers are relentlessly accurate.
They are legitimate contenders despite not looking like a complete outfit and RCB would do well to be wary of them. More so because of their absolute necessity to win this game.
Ray Jennings must have had an extensive check list for his team before their match against Somerset. It would have read: Bat to potential, bowl tight, field for your lives, close the game and come out with a positive if not healthy Net Run Rate; a tall task collectively to ask of any team. They did it, and Jennings will hope they do it again tonight.