Virtually out of contention for a semifinal berth, title holders Deccan Chargers would be hoping to redeem some pride while Royal Challengers Bangalore have everything to play for when the two teams take on each other in an Indian Premier League match here on Thursday.
Deccan’s semifinal hopes in the IPL 3 were dealt a blow after the Hyderabad outfit slumped to five loses on the trot to find itself struggling at the bottom half of the tally with just six points from nine outings.
The Kumar Sangakkara-led side, however, would be hoping to return to winning ways on Thursday at floodlit M Chinnaswamy Stadium to give them an outside chance of progressing to the semis.
If the must-win situation against the formidable Royal Challengers was not a herculean task, the defending champions will also have to ensure victory in all the remaining four matches after Thursday to keep their hopes alive in the Twenty20 tournament.
However, looking at the form and morale of the team such a proposition looks highly unlikely.
Deccan this season were completely undone by its top players’ inability to finish the games.
Skipper Adam Gilchrist, Herschelle Gibbs and Andrew Symonds have failed to deliver when it mattered most for the team.
Young Rohit Sharma has been their batting mainstay, but with very little support from the other end his efforts have invariably gone in vain.
Royal Challengers, on the other hand, are placed in the third spot in the points table behind Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils and a victory on Thursday would do a world of good for the Bangalore side.
Anil Kumble’s brigade which has garnered 10 points from nine games so far, will have to come up trumps in front of the home crowd to consolidate their position in the tournament.
RCB will have to win at least three of its remaining five games to make the semifinal cut, especially with Chennai Super Kings (10 from 10) and Rajasthan Royals (10 from 10) snapping at its heels in the points table.
As IPL 3 enters the defining stage, only Mumbai Indians (14 from nine) and Delhi Daredevils (12 from nine) seemed assured of a place in the last-four.
But if forms were to be the barometer, RCB should call the shots in Thursday’s crucial tie even though in cricket’s shortest format anything could happen.
Robin Uthappa has been in blistering form and his brutal power-hitting has destroyed the analysis of bowlers like S Sreesanth, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Australian Brett Lee.
If Uthappa, Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey and Virat Kohli were not enough a worry for Deccan, returns of Ross Taylor, Kevin Pietersen and Cameron White have empowered RCB’s batting department.
Bangalore’s bowling department will be at the safe hands of experienced Kumble and South African pacer Dale Steyn.
If Steyn is lethal upfront, Bangalore’s bowling at the middle is at the hands of master craftsman Kumble, who has proved in the tournament that he had not lost his guile.