BANGLORE: Their playoff hopes over, a shattered Royal Challengers Bangalore will only have pride to play for against strong title-contenders Chennai Super Kings in their last league match of the IPL-7 here on Saturday.
The 30-run defeat against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), who booked the IPL playoff berth, dashed RCB`s hopes, a massive blow to team owner Dr Vijay Mallya, who splurged Rs 14 crore to buy all-rounder Yuvraj Singh.
Virat Kohli, who could do no wrong in the last IPL by scoring over 600 runs, is now in the eye of the storm for RCB`s doomed campaign.
However, the RCB skipper would be eyeing a consolation win to bid a graceful adieu to the tournament. But considering the form CSK is in, the task seems quite a big one for him.
The formidable CSK have already qualified for the playoffs and would like to bounce back after they faced a six-wicket rout at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s men would also be gunning for revenge against the RCB, who pulled off a five-wicket win in a thrilling match on May 18.
The batting lineup, which looked strong on paper before the tournament, has let the RCB down on more than one occasion.
The poor form of explosive opener Chris Gayle and stocky pocket-dynamite Parthiv Patel, has exposed the frailties of the lineup, which is currently over-relying on Yuvraj.
The left-hander has done reasonably well but the see-saw opening arrangements of Patel and Yogesh Takawale has not clicked when faced with good attacks.`
RCB can, however, count on Virat Kohli`s return to form after the captain scored his first half century this season to lift their total to 160/6 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The disappointment for the home side has been the bowling department. Except Yezuvendra Chahal and Mitchell Starc, most have struggled.
All but assured of a berth in the play-offs, CSK would be aiming to quickly get over the shock losses against KKR and SRH.
Chennai are currently second on the table with 16 points from eight wins and five losses in 13 matches.
Opener Dwayne Smith, who has contributed well to CSK`s campaign so far, scored 47 against Hyderabad and would be aiming to continue the form to enter the playoffs with confidence.
Faf du Plessis, however, remains a slight concern as he is yet to come up with a noteworthy knock for his side.
Dhoni got his first fifty of the season and is going about his job without making any big statements with his bat. The India star is averaging over 44 — the best by a Chennai player in this IPL and his tally of runs reads 280 in 13 innings, including eight unbeaten knocks.
On the bowling front, pacer Mohit Sharma has been the bowling star for Chennai this season, having taken 18 wickets at an impressive average of 15.22.