After restoring their pride in season-II, Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to stretch their dream run when they clash with Chennai Super Kings in their Indian Premier League semi-final match in Centurion on Saturday.
Both the teams have taken contrasting routes to reach the last-four stage as Chennai dominated in the first-half of the league stage before suffering some close defeats while Bangalore gradually picked up after the change of guard in their team.
Bangalore was one of the two bottom placed teams in the first edition and have done a remarkable job this season.
They have turned around things for themselves amazingly under the inspiring leadership of Anil Kumble and it will not be a surprise if they go on and crush the Chennai dream of winning the title.
But for that to happen Bangalore bowlers have to produce something extraordinary as the Chennai batting troika of Matthew Hayden, Suresh Raina and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is in a rampaging form.
Hayden has treated the bowlers with utter disdain in the tournament and with his powerful and sensible batting, he single handedly romped Chennai home in some matches.
The diminutive Raina is a precious asset for the team with his all round abilities. With bat,he is in good touch right from the start of the tournament and also did a remarkable job with the ball.
Dhoni,the skipper with Midas touch, has also found his rhythm, shrugging off the initial lean patch.
Bangalore had kept themselves in the hunt after overwhelming Chennai, when the two teams contested on May 14but to do an encore they will have to play out of their skins.
Muttiah Muralitharan gives Chennai attack an edge and handling of the wily off-spinnerwould have a bearing on the fortunes of the Bangalore side.
Ross Taylor has played a significant role in re-shapingthe Bangalore campaign and the Kiwi batsman will have to shoulder the burden yet again though Manish Pandey, who has been a revelation of sorts for them.
Theyoung batsman must be a picture of confidence after smashing a century in the match against Deccan Chargers.
Bangalore top-oderhas been inconsistent and it has to fire in Saturday's clash. One of the top-three batsmen has to bat through the innings and Jacques Kallis has shown that he can do that.
Butthe key is to stop Chennai to as low a score as possible. Kumble will have to use all his experience and use his resources skillfully. Praveen Kumar and Kallis, if he recovers from the knee injury, have enormous responsibility on their shoulders.
Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters