IPL Eliminator: Moment of reckoning for LSG and RCB

KOLKATA: Mumbai Indians played a major part in helping RCB clinch a last-four berth in this IPL, but the Faf du Plessis-led side will be on their own, with no second chance on offer, when they face Lucknow Super Giants in the Eliminator at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. The posts that went viral on social media highlighting RCB’s celebrations shows how keen the side is about making it count this time. After all, they perhaps remain the biggest under-achievers in IPL history.

Making the playoffs for the first time since 2016, RCB will be hungry to get their hands on the coveted trophy for the first time after having finished runners-up thrice. They have placed third and fourth twice. They might be up against IPL first-timers in Lucknow, but LSG, on their part, have looked well-balanced. And no one will be happier than LSG owner Sanjiv Goenka, who will cherish a win in his own city.

Going by statistics, it can be an open-and-shut case as RCB, whose bowlers have picked up the fewest wickets in the Powerplay, will have their task cut out against LSG’s KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock, who have been the most successful opening combination of the season.

But coach Mike Hesson knows well that if they can see the openers off early, they will have a chance against the brittle LSG middle-order of Marcus Stoinis, Krunal Pandya, Ayush Badoni and Jason Holder. Despite Mohammed Siraj’s poor show with the new ball this season, RCB may be tempted to try him out on a fresh Eden track in place of Siddharth Kaul.

LSG’s biggest asset on Wednesday evening may turn out to be someone sitting in the dugout. It will be a homecoming for their mentor Gautam Gambhir, who knows Eden Gardens better than most, having done wonders here for seven years at the helm for the Kolkata Knight Riders. The calm before the storm.