Last weekend, Royal Challengers Bangalore were on the brink of elimination, needing Mumbai Indians to knock Delhi Capitals out. Mumbai did them that favour, and now the stars are aligning for Royal Challengers.
Harshal Patel, Royal Challengers’ designated death bowler, has recovered sufficiently from a hand injury. Rajat Patidar’s high-risk 112 not out against Lucknow Super Giants fetched them high reward and put them in the second qualifier. Dinesh Karthik, too, rode his on Wednesday, and now Royal Challengers are one step away from featuring in the final this weekend.
Standing between RCB and the chance to meet Gujarat Titans in the final are Rajasthan Royals. Jos Buttler‘s brief slowdown and the lack of enough batting power beyond Shimron Hetmyer crippled them in the first qualifier against Titans in Kolkata. Prasidh Krishna and R Ashwin also erred in their lines and lengths at different points on Tuesday as the risk of playing six batters and five bowlers in T20 cricket was exposed.
Both Royals and Royal Challengers will also have to deal with the challenge of adapting quickly to the conditions at the Motera (Now renamed to the Narendra Modi Stadium). The venue has been Royals’ home ground in the past: in all, they have played 12 matches here and have won seven.

In the news

Royals’ allrounder Daryl Mitchell has exited the IPL bubble to link up with the New Zealand side in Chelmsford.

Likely XIs

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Devdutt Padikkal, 5 Shimron Hetmyer, 6 Riyan Parag, 7 R Ashwin, 8 Trent Boult, 9 Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Obed McCoy, 11 Prasidh Krishna

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Faf du Plessis (capt), 2 Virat Kohli, 3 Rajat Patidar, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Mahipal Lomror, 6 Shahbaz Ahmed, 7 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 8 Wanindu Hasaranga, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Josh Hazlewood, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Strategy punt

Match up Wanindu Hasaranga with Sanju Samson once again. The RCB legspinner has dismissed Samson five times in six T20 innings while conceding only 18 runs off 23 balls. Mohammed Siraj also had a favourable head-to-head record against Samson: two dismissals for 21 runs off 20 balls.

  • Since 2021, teams batting first have won six games, and teams batting second have won 11 games in T20 cricket at the Motera.
  • After taking ten wickets in his first eight matches this season at an economy rate of 7.8, Krishna has managed only five strikes since, in seven games, with his economy rate shooting up to nine.