Sunrisers Hyderabad’s dominant win over Lucknow Super Giants on Wednesday has established two things: Mumbai Indians are eliminated. The loser of this clash between Punjab Kings and Royal Challengers Bengaluru will officially join them.

By all means, this is a must-win clash between two sides who couldn’t have had more contrasting routes leading up to this game. Punjab Kings may have only recorded four wins so far from 11 games but the results don’t tell you how close they were in many of their seven defeats to getting across the line. While top order failures cost them in most games, death bowling was also a concern in the other losses.

The high-intent approach of Punjab’s batting did mean that they produced an unthinkable run chase against table toppers KKR, gunning down the highest T20 chase of all time. Most of their batting has revolved around the juniors like Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma who had to do the heavy lifting after all the early damage. The duo have certainly impressed, more so Shashank, but it wasn’t until Jonny Bairstow found form that Punjab started to look ominous. The heroics against KKR at Eden Gardens were followed by a special win against CSK at Chepauk but the defeat to the defending champions in the reverse fixture at Dharamsala has hurt Punjab’s hopes. They do have the personnel to turn things around but it will boil down to their temperament under pressure.

The challenge for PBKS is that they are running into a RCB outfit that’s on a three-match winning streak. IPL’s eternal tragic heroes had just a solitary win in their first eight games, having been outplayed more often than not. Early elimination seemed certain until Faf du Plessis’ men started to notch up one win after the other. It started by upstaging Sunrisers Hyderabad in Hyderabad before completing a double over Gujarat Titans. All three wins were achieved with a degree of dominance.

The lack of pressure in recent games may have been a reason, as suggested by Faf in his post-match presentations. Bengaluru’s batting line-up struggled for impetus in the first half of the season. But with nothing to lose (qualification chances are extremely complex), RCB have played with more freedom, especially with the bat. Faf’s own form has spiked while the entry of Will Jacks has certainly added thrust to the batting unit. The bowling, which lacked purpose and discipline early on, seems to have worked out their strategies better in the last three games.

The nature of T20 cricket is such that the contrasting roadmaps of the two sides are not of much significance, given that they both find themselves in similar terrain of a knockout fixture.

When: Thursday, May 9 at 19:30 IST

Where: Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, Dharamsala

What to expect: The first game of the season saw a surprisingly slower surface with help for seamers with the new ball and spinners with the older ball. However, that was a day game and the venue has historically seen more joy for batters in night games. This could mean a much better batting track on offer. There should still be some help on offer for the pacers with the new ball.

Head to Head: There isn’t much to choose when it comes to the head-to-head stats between the two teams. The sides have faced each other 32 times with PBKS holding a slender 17-15 lead. RCB prevailed in the reverse fixture earlier this season in Bengaluru.

Team watch:

Punjab Kings

Injuries and unavailability: Shikhar Dhawan is yet to return to the setup

Tactics and matchups:Jonny Bairstow has had tremendous personal success against RCB. In five innings, he has a century and two fifties, tallying 261 runs at a staggering strike rate of 177.55. He also has a strike rate of 216 against RCB’s powerplay specialist Mohammed Siraj, who has conceded 54 runs in 25 balls against the Englishman with one dismissal. Punjab will hope that Bairstow can deliver once more against his favourite franchise. PBKS are expected to be unchanged for this fixture, unless they want to bring back Liam Livingstone into the XI, which would mean an exit for Rilee Rossouw. However, that seems unlikely, as does the option of Shikhar Dhawan returning.

Probable XI: Jonny Bairstow, Rilee Rossouw, Shashank Singh, Sam Curran (c), Jitesh Sharma (wk), Ashutosh Sharma, Harpreet Brar, Harshal Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Arshdeep Singh. [Impact sub: Prabhsimran Singh]

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Injuries/unavailability: RCB don’t have any injury concerns in their camp.

Tactics and matchups:Between overs 7-15, Rajat Patidar has been going at a rollicking strike rate of 183. He has also perished seven times in 100 deliveries but his intent against spin will be crucial to RCB’s chances, given the form of Punjab’s spin duo Rahul Chahar and Harpreet Brar. It’s rare for sides to change much when they are on a three-match winning streak and RCB are also expected to go with that pattern.

Probable XI: Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis (c), Glenn Maxwell, Will Jacks, Cameron Green, Dinesh Karthik, Karn Sharma, Swapnil Singh, Yash Dayal, Vijaykumar Vysakh, Mohammed Siraj. [Impact sub: Rajat Patidar].

Did you know?

– Seven of Mohammed Siraj’s eight wickets have come while bowling first this season with an economy of 8.8 while his solitary wicket bowling second has come at an economy of 9.77

– Harshal Patel has been expensive at the death but has also been a wicket-taker. He has 11 wickets in slog overs this season across 16 overs bowled.

What they said:

Not easy to switch between red and white ball cricket. You need to give your 110% every ball here (in T20s).” – Mohammed Siraj explains the challenges of being a bowler in the shortest format

“The wicket was probably slower than we thought, we expected a little more pace and bounce, it was pretty similar throughout the game. Couple of days off and we go against RCB in a few days time so we need to move on and stay headstrong.” Sam Curran after the loss to CSK

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