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Kohli's Challengers fancied against Raina's Lions for a place in IPL final

IANS/Bengaluru
Filed on May 25, 2016 | Last updated on May 25, 2016 at 06.54 am
With 919 runs, Bangalore captain Virat Kohli is on the cusp of becoming the first player to score 1,000 runs in an IPL edition.
With 919 runs, Bangalore captain Virat Kohli is on the cusp of becoming the first player to score 1,000 runs in an IPL edition.

(IPL/ SPORTZPICS)

The last time RCB squared up against Gujarat here, they recorded the biggest ever (144-run) victory in the history of IPL. AB de Villiers (129 not out) and Virat Kohli (109) went on a rampage in that game.


 With the conclusion of the league phase, the stage is all set for the Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs, as a rampaging Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) take on Gujarat Lions in Qualifier 1 on Tuesday.

Having won their last four league games - beating Lions by 144 runs, Kolkata Knight Riders by 9 wickets, Kings XI Punjab by 82 runs D/L method and Delhi Daredevils by 6 wickets, the Virat Kohli-led RCB finished in second spot on the points table while Suresh Raina's Gujarat Lions have had a successful debut campaign to top the standings.

The last time RCB squared up against Gujarat here, they recorded the biggest ever (144-run) victory in the history of IPL. AB de Villiers (129 not out) and Virat Kohli (109) went on a rampage in that game.

Coming into today's clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, both the sides will have an advantage. While the winning team will book a place in the final, the losing team will get to play in the second qualifier against the winner of the eliminator for a place in the title clash.

In the first qualifier, RCB will not only have the advantage of playing the high pressure game on their home ground but also can take solace from their all-round effort in the six-wicket win against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday.

The Bangalore franchise, runners-up in 2009 and 2011, will hope for a solid start from the in-form batting trio of skipper Kohli, West Indian Chris Gayle and South African veteran AB de Villiers.

With 919 runs so far in the tournament, Kohli, who has amassed four tons and five fifties, is a shy away from breaking another IPL record of becoming the first player to score 1,000 runs in an IPL edition.

Lokesh Rahul, Shane Watson and youngster Sachin Baby form a formidable middle order followed by the likes of all-rounder Stuart Binny.

The bowling department, which was a weak link for the side in the earlier part of the league phase, has also come to the party towards the business end with the pace-spin duo of Watson and Yuzvendra Chahal among the top five wicket-takers. With 19 wickets so far, leg-spinner Chahal is the purple cap holder while Australian veteran all-rounder Watson, with 16 wickets is fifth.

On the other hand, Raina has led debutants Gujarat from the front with back-to-back half centuries in the final two league matches to finish on top of the standings.

Apart from Raina, the batting will centre around West Indian Dwayne Smith, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum, Australian Aaron Finch and stumper Dinesh Karthik.

Gujarat also boasts of quality all-rounders in Dwayne Bravo and Ravindra Jadeja, who can add enough firepower in the lower order.

The bowling department has variety in its ranks with Chinaman Shivil Kaushik being one of the finds of the tournament while veteran medium pacer Praveen Kumar has also been impressive with his new ball partner Dhawal Kulkarni.

Smith, with his gentle medium pace has been an effective weapon for Raina to contain the rival batters while the left-arm spin of Jadeja and Shadab Jakati will be a good test for the RCB batters, who will relish playing at the home turf. - 





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