(IPL) Four teams are left standing in the VIVO IPL 2016. Two of them – Gujarat Lions and Royal Challengers Bangalore – who ended among the top two teams in the table, will come up against each other in Qualifier 1 – the first of the Playoff matches.
Both teams have had contrasting runs to the Playoffs. The Gujarat Lions started off with a bang, winning six of their first seven matches, before doing just enough to hold on to their place in the top four. Royal Challengers Bangalore meanwhile had a poor first half – winning just two of their first half of their seven matches. Since then, they’ve won six of their last seven matches – and have played each of their last four matches like a knockout match.
In their most recent outing, the Gujarat Lions got the better of the Mumbai Indians to ensure their passage to the Playoffs. They restricted the defending champions to 172-8 and then chased down the runs in under 18 overs, winning by 6 wickets.
RCB are red hot; their victory margins in the last four matches read 6 wickets, 82 runs, 9 wickets and 144 runs. From the time the IPL began, RCB have been perennial favourites and have always threatened to win the title. A victory in this match will set up a title clash in their own backyard. Can they do it?
Figure this: Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum, Aaron Finch, AB de Villiers, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Shane Watson all playing in one match. How does one single out from those names, each of who can lay claim to be among the most devastating in business and are capable of winning matches single-handedly?
Simply put, Kohli has been sensational; four centuries, six half-centuries and a record season aggregate of 919 runs best describes his performance this season. AB de Villiers, with an aggregate of 603 runs scored at a strike-rate of 170.33, has been prolific too. The Gujarat Lions will expect a blazing start from their openers – Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch – and hope Suresh Raina can take charge, like he did in the team’s last two matches.