Today's Indian Premier League clash at the Brabourne Stadium is virtually a do-or-die one for Rajasthan Royals and Kolkata Knight Riders.
Rajasthan Royals, with 14 points, have to win to keep their play-offs hope alive. If KKR beat RR, they will seal the play-offs spot, leaving Rajasthan in a spot of bother to qualify.
Rajasthan Royals’ Steve Smith (centre) gives a pep talk during his team’s practice session ahead of the do-or-die game vs Kolkata Knight Riders at Brabourne yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
In such a crunch situation, it is not just the skills that will set apart the two teams. The team that is mentally tough will have the edge over its opponent, believes RR’s mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton.
"When you are into a do-or-die game, the focus on mind games is a bit more. Everyone is crystal clear now, it’s significant whether we win or don’t win tomorrow. Until now, winning a game or not winning hasn’t been that important as there has been always a chance to catch up. So when we get into a knockout situation, it’s a quarter-final for us tomorrow," said Upton on the eve of the most important clash for Rajasthan Royals.
Just like last year...
RR, just like last year, have kept their qualification chances till the end. All RR needed was a win from their last three games, but they failed to win against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings and put themselves in a tight position this season as well.
Upton felt the team is well-prepared to fight the challenge. "Yes, there are similarities to last year. Last year, we needed to win one of the last three games. Here, it is the same thing and we are fortunate this year to have the experience. We are much more mentally prepared this year," he said.
Upton, however, preferred to look at the positives. "I am quite okay that we dipped a little bit in form. As we have seen, teams who have won the IPL have started their charge for the finals a couple of games after the start, and then they really find the momentum towards the backend of the tournament. So, we are now well placed to find that momentum and carry it to the rest of the matches," he said.