Its crunch time for Chargers and Bangalore
As the race to reach the semifinals of the Indian Premier League nears a thrilling climax, a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore will clash with Deccan Chargers in a crucial match here on Thursday.
For Bangalore, which started this IPL with an upset win over defending champion Rajasthan Royals, a victory in the last match will propel it to the last-four stage.
What makes this match interesting besides the obvious lure of a last-four berth is that both Bangalore and Deccan were the bottom-placed teams last season and have made significant progress to press for a semifinal spot this time.
And both teams, with 14 points from 13 matches, would now hope to make all the hard work count.
Deccan, after a dazzling start, had been inconsistent, allowing others to catch up.
The one-run defeat to Mumbai Indians in its last encounter has hurt it a lot.
But it will need to pull up its socks for one final fling in the most crucial game so far in the tournament.
Inconsistency has also been a constant with the Royal Challengers. It has won seven of its 13 matches, the same as Deccan.
But of late, it is in the middle of another purple patch, having dispatched Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils in the last three encounters.
Royal Challengers has done well so far under Anil Kumbleís astute leadership. At the same time it has shown a tendency to rely heavily on the batting of Jacques Kallis.
It has some clean hitters in Ross Taylor and Robin Uthappa, but they need to provide Kallis support against a Deccan bowling attack that boasts of R.P. Singh, the tournamentís highest wicket-taker so far with 19 scalps.
Kumbleís guile will be tested against the likes of Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs at the top of the order while Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma can trouble many with their big hitting in the middle.
With a berth in the semifinals acting as the incentive, this match could offer plenty of high drama.