"Every game is a mind game. Everyone is crystal clear now. Up until now not winning the game has not been that important as there was a chance to catch up. Now it's effectively a knock-out situation, a quarter-final for us tomorrow," Upton said here on Friday.
"Yes, there are similarities to last year when we needed to win one of the last three games. This year it's similar again. I guess we are fortunate that we have the experience of last year. We are certainly a lot more mentally prepared.
"Given the situation, it's an advantage we were in this position last year and learnt from it," the former mental conditioning coach of India team commented.
Upton, the mental conditioning coach of the Indian team that won the World Cup in 2011 when his compatriot Gary Kirsten was the head coach, was referring to the do-or-die match between MI and RR last year which the former won and made it into the play-off.
This time around too with 14 points in their kitty ahead of the final league game, the Royals have to win tomorrow to sail into the last four.
Upton made it clear that Steve Smith will lead the team in the crunch game and not Shane Watson who will be burdened with opening the batting as well as death bowling, other than captaincy.
"Steve Smith will lead tomorrow. The reason is Shane has been asked to open the batting. Previously, he has batted some times in the middle of the innings. This year he has established opening the batting. He also opens the bowling if overhead conditions are swinging. We are also asking him to bowl at the death."
"Those are three significant roles within a game. Particularly if we bat second, asking Shane to captain in the death, bowl in the death and 15 minutes on open the batting is really a big ask. We just feel it's the best use of our resources," he explained.
Saying the team experimented more with its batting last year, Upton agreed that this year it has been using wicket keeper Sanju Samson and Karun Nair alternatively at no. 3 spot as the former was better against pace and the latter against spin.
"One of the reasons we have changed Samson and Karun around is that Karun is an exceptionally good player of spin Sanju is possibly a better batsman for us against seam-up."

"Last year and the year before, we probably played between 17-20 players. It's to find out the best person to match the opposition as far as possible. This year in comparison to previous two years we have been a lot more consistent," he said.
Looking at the larger picture during crunch games Upton said that the individuals who panicked less will win the personal battles.
"The single biggest obstacle to success is the fear of repercussions of failure which could be reprimand from the coach, or the captain throwing up his arm to express disappointment or criticism from the media.”
"When a player experiences this it tightens him up. If we can reduce the fear of failure it reduces the amount of panic that happens in high pressure moments."
He described Knight Riders to possess a very balanced bowling attack of quality pace and spin bowlers.
"They have a balanced attack. They have four high-quality seam bowlers – (Morne) Morkel, (Umesh) Yadav, (Andre) Russell and Pat Cummins to choose from - and also have some high quality spinners. We are fully aware of that."
"But this year we are fortunate to have a balanced batting line up. We bat down to no. 9. We have got James Faulkner and Chris Morris. We are very strong in terms of batting," he remarked.

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