Pretoria:As the race to reach the semi-finals of Indian Premier League nears a thrilling climax, a resurgent Royal Challengers Bangalore will clash with Deccan Chargers in a virtual quarter-final here on Thursday.
Bangalore, who started IPL's season-II with an upset win over defending champions Rajasthan Royals, will wind down the league engagement and a victory in the last match will propel them 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 a significant progress to press for a semi-final 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 their last encounter have hurt them a lot. But they need to pull up their 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. They have won seven of their 13 matches losing six, the same as Deccan.
But off late, they are in the middle of another purple patch, having dispatched Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils in their last three encounters.
Royal Challengers have done well so far under Anil Kumble's astute leadership. At the same time they have shown a tendency of relying heavily on the batting of Jacques Kallis.
They have some clean hitters in Ross Taylor and Robin Uthappa, but they need to provide Kallis support against a Deccan bowling attack that boasts RP Singh, the tournament's highest wicket-taker so far with 19 scalps.
Kumble's 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 semi-finals acting as the incentive, this match could offer plenty of high drama.