RCB are a team defined by star quality, by individual brilliance. They possess three of the best, if not the three best, Twenty20 batsmen in the world in Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. They have spent more money on one player, Yuvraj Singh, than any franchise has ever spent on a single player. They have one of the wealthiest owners in the IPL.
The Rajasthan Royals are generally thought to be prudent spenders—frugal and wise. They possessed the cheapest squad in the first edition of the IPL yet went on to win it. And since they've always managed to compete, not through lavish spending and star names, but through calculation, sagacity and strategy.
This season the difference between these two teams has rarely been so obvious and indeed pertinent.
The Rajasthan Royals require just two victories from their final five matches to be confident of qualifying for a place in the play-off stage.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, must now win all five of their remaining matches to stand a chance of qualification.
The two matches between the two sides this season have been won by Rajasthan. First, they obliterated RCB, dismissing them for 70 before seeing off the runs with ease. And today, in a pulsating encounter, the Royals pulled off an extraordinary heist, scoring an amazing 64 runs off their last 17 deliveries to win with seven balls to spare.
RCB's performance today was entirely governed by the brilliance of two players, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers. The pair came together 30-4 and were broken up at 172-4. Yuvraj scored 83 and de Villiers scored 58, in a partnership that single-handedly wrestled the match into the hands of RCB:
Then, with the ball, Yuvraj's 4-35 was essentially the lone star hand for the Royal Challengers. The rest of the attack, Yuzvendra Chahal aside, were pulverised. And the overs bowled by Ashok Dinda and Varun Aaron at the death, during the Royals final assault, lost RCB the match.
Meanwhile, RR managed to chase a total of 190 with a top score of just 56, and with the ball, there was no one bowler who stood out as a star performer. It was a victory governed by team brilliance.
Of course, the incredible blitz of Steve Smith and James Faulkner at the end will stand out as the reasons for the Royals' victory, but it was a win for a team whose brilliance runs deeper than the headline makers.
In Paddy Upton and Rahul Dravid, the Rajasthan Royals have a supreme management double act. Shane Watson appears to have taken to captaincy well and with a nicely balanced squad, possessing young and old. The whole team appear to be bringing the best out in each other.
The Rajasthan Royals often appear to have no right to win the matches they do, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. They have more right to victory than those teams reliant on individual brilliance, for the Royals are well-drilled, well run and efficient. From top to bottom, they are a solid cricket team. And for that, they deserve all the success that comes their way.