The Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have been here before. They had their noses in the playoffs in each of the last two seasons but suffered a pair of tough losses, first to the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in 2020 and then to the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) last year.
Now up against newbies Lucknow Super Giants in the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL) Eliminator, RCB will have to take the positives from those experiences while ensuring they don't crumble under pressure again.
Bangalore needed the Mumbai Indians (MI) to grant them a favor by beating the Delhi Capitals (DC), but there's no doubt that they deserve to be here. As one of the most smartly assembled outfits in the IPL 2022 auction - barring a slightly incompatible top order - the three-time finalists have recorded eight wins even though big names like Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell haven't been at their utmost best.
Meanwhile, LSG are still searching for the right balance in their playing XI. They sacrificed a few bowling options in their final league game against KKR and were almost left to rue their mistakes before some last-over heroics from Marcus Stoinis and Evin Lewis saved the day. It will be interesting to see the make-up for their side for the Eliminator, a match they wouldn't have expected to play given how well they were playing before losses in two of their last three group-stage matches.
Both IPL teams have injury concerns. Harshal Patel split his webbing while fielding in the previous game and didn't complete his quota of overs, and his loss would be massive for RCB. But he has conveyed that he's likely to be ready for the Eliminator. LSG, on the other hand, were without their vice-captain Krunal Pandya in the last game. He, too, is bound to make his way back into the playing XI.
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IPL 2022 Match Prediction: LSG vs RCB
Is Virat Kohli peaking at the right time for RCB? The opener hit 73 off 54 in the game against the Gujarat Titans (GT) to orchestrate a masterful run-chase and ensure his franchise a spot in the IPL playoffs 2022. When Kohli scores, he scores big and he scores consistently. If his knock wasn't just a flash in the pan, he could stand between LSG and a spot in Qualifier 2.
Faf du Plessis and Glenn Maxwell have come up with a few game-defining innings, but the overseas professionals haven't been as impactful as they were in IPL 2021. The Aussie, in particular, will be invaluable in the Eliminator, not only with his attacking intent in the middle overs but also with his handy new-ball off-spin against Quinton de Kock.
LSG have been woeful while chasing, with KL Rahul struggling to pace his innings when asked to bowl first. The Super Giants batting lineup is almost solely reliant on Rahul, De Kock and Deepak Hooda to set the tone, since the rest of the middle-order batters have been put in positions where they can't succeed because of dubious entry points.
Overall, it seems like RCB's players know their roles much better. LSG might have more raw ability on paper and we've occasionally seen them deliver complete performances, but those have been few and far between. Along the expected lines, Rahul's captaincy has been sub-par, something which could cost Lucknow dearly in the Eliminator.
While anything can happen in an IPL playoff game, especially one involving two high-class sides, Bangalore have the slightest of edges.
Prediction: RCB to win the IPL 2022 Eliminator
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