While Chennai Super Kings stay alive to fight another day, despite a heavy loss to the Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1, no such luxury will be awarded to the Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. The IPL 2015 Eliminator at the MCA Stadium in Pune is a straight knockout – win and you face CSK in Qualifier 2 in Ranchi; lose and it is pack-your-bags time.
RCB have been -- as they should be with Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB De Villiers in their side – the most exciting side in this IPL 2015, with style, this time, meeting substance. Too many times in the past RCB have shown their ridiculous talents in patches, but always flattered to deceive when it has mattered most.
This season has been a little different, with RCB winning the big moments more often than not, which has shown in their eventual position of third in the IPL 2015 standings after the league phase. RCB might have finished second and faced off against CSK on Tuesday had their final league game against Delhi Daredevils not been washed out, but take the long road they must now, with RR the first hurdle to cross.
It is a big hurdle as well, as the Royals showed just what a potent team they can be when their big guns step up. Shane Watson had been a little disappointing heading into the IPL 2105 do-or-die game against champions KKR, but having relinquished the captaincy to Steve Smith, the RR all-rounder came to the fore in stunning style, scoring a brilliant hundred.
That hundred and the eventual score that followed was enough to topple even the chase-happy KKR, and RR will need another such performance from one of their top three – be that Watson, Ajinkya Rahane or Smith.
Smith is another who has not quite hit the right heights yet in IPL 2015. The Australian came into IPL 2015 in the form of his life having plundered runs in the Test series against India and then the World Cup, but that form has not quite been carried forward to the IPL.
So, what better way to get over those IPL blues than to swat away Smith's compatriot Mitchell Starc in a knockout game? Knockout matches, after all, are all about handling the pressure better, and RR certainly showed they can do that against KKR.
If they hold their nerve again, they will cause a few frowns to come on the RCB faces and then that pressure will be right on the likes of Kohli, De Villiers and Gayle to perform, if that cannot-make-a-mistake-now level is cranked up while batting. On the bowling front, RCB's hopes will rest on Starc, who has been the main factor behind his team's resurgence.
Since the return of Starc, and after the best three batsmen started to bat in positions 1, 2 and 3, RCB have looked a different outfit, and if the left-armer can fire in those yorkers consistently, RR will struggle to score runs.
On paper, RCB's bowling looks a lot stronger than RR's, while the batting could go either way. To sway that pendulum in the Royals' favour, James Faulkner will need to step up, with both bat and ball.
Faulkner is another Aussie, who just hasn't quite recovered from the World Cup hangover, and the all-rounder will be needed with both bat and ball if RR are to get over the line against the formidable RCB.
Expected lineups: RCB: Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (capt), AB De Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Dinesh Karthik, Sarfaraz Khan, David Wiese, Harshal Patel, Mitchell Starc, Ashoke Dinda, Yuzvendra Chahal.
RR: Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Steve Smith (capt), Sanju Samson, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, James Faulkner, Chris Morris, Stuart Binny, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe.
Where to Watch Live
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RCB vs RR IPL 2015 Eliminator is scheduled to begin at 8 pm IST (3.30 pm BST, 10.30 am ET). Sony Six (English), Sony Max (Hindi), Sony Aath (Bengali) and Sony Kix (Tamil and Telugu) are the TV channels to watch the IPL 2015 match in India. Hotstar and Starsports.com will provide the free online live streaming coverage.
ESPN is the place to be to watch RCB vs RR in the US and the game can also be live streamed online on ESPN Cricket.
Viewers from around the world can also watch the IPL 2015 Eliminator Live on Cricketgateway.