MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings are through to the IPL 2021 final after a 4 wicket victory over Delhi Capitals on Sunday night.
On Monday, two more teams will face off in the IPL playoffs, but this 'Eliminator' fixture between Virat Kohli's RCB and Eoin Morgan's KKR will be a knockout match with the winner playing Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 2 on Wednesday for a spot in the final.
Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore have had contrasting routes to the playoffs. While Bangalore maintained their third place from the first half into the UAE leg, Kolkata made a remarkable turnaround to move from seventh place in the first half to fourth in the second.
Bangalore had beaten Kolkata by 38 runs during the first phase of the tournament in India. But when the two sides met in Abu Dhabi, Kolkata secured a crushing nine-wicket win after bowling out Bangalore for 92.
A bulk of Kolkata's success in the UAE leg, winning five out of seven matches, has been around fantastic starts by their openers Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer. Iyer shined bright with impressive knocks while Gill has been able to stay at the crease for long. Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana have chipped in with useful cameos despite the lack of runs from captain Eoin Morgan. The bowling attack, comprising Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, and Sunil Narine have picked wickets consistently.
Bangalore, on the other hand, have seen Glenn Maxwell take responsibility in the batting order apart from wicketkeeper KS Bharat delivering the goods with the bat. Virat Kohli has been on and off while Devdutt Padikkal seems to have got stuck after a few good starts. AB de Villier' hasn't generated the breathtaking finishing touch and Bangalore will be hoping he comes good in the Eliminator. In terms of bowling, Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal have been shouldering the load, taking wickets, and keeping the opposition in check.
Bangalore will be confident going into the Eliminator. But they are now up against a team that has scripted a change of fortune and attitude since landing in the UAE, having won twice in Sharjah, while setting total as well as defending it, this season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (captain), Navdeep Saini, Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Rajat Patidar, Dushmantha Chameera, Pavan Deshpande, Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Sachin Baby, Wanindu Hasaranga, George Garton, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shahbaz Ahmed, Devdutt Padikkal, Kyle Jamieson, Suyash Prabhudessai, KS Bharat, Tim David, Akash Deep, and AB de Villiers.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (captain), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathy, Shubman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Shivam Dube, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russel, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, and Tim Seifert.
(With inputs from IANS)