RCB take on MI for CLT20 Glory
The Royal Challengers Bangalore will take on Mumbai Indians in the final of the 2011 Champions League T20 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai tonight.
The two teams have made it past a number of odds to be in the final, especially injuries to their top players. Mumbai even had to ask permission to field 5 overseas players in the team as opposed to the norm of 4 because of the number of injuries to their Indian contingent. They lost big names like Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Munaf Patel, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ali Murtaza even before the tournament and Davy Jacobs soon after it started.
Despite that the youngsters have come good for Mumbai Indians with Abu Nechim, Sarul Kanwar, Yuzhvendra Chahal chipping in with good performances and Harbhajan doing an admirable job as the captain. Their only worry will be the poor form of Ambati Rayudu in the tournament but they batted deep early in the tournament while Blizzard, Pollard, Sathish and Franklin stepped up well later.
Malinga, Harbhajan and Nechim have been good on the Chepauk pitch which has been re-laid since the IPL and has acted very differently. Having played most of their games in Chennai they have an advantage since it’s a pitch that takes a lot of getting adjusted to and that’s the edge they will count on against RCB in the final. RCB on the other hand are on a roll and will want to brush Mumbai with their momentum
RCB faced misfortune in the beginning as well, Cheteshwar Pujara still recovering from the injury he picked up in the IPL, Zaheer Khan breaking down on India’s tour of England and AB de Villiers fracturing his finger after RCB’s first game. They lost a close game off the last ball against the Warriors and were steamrollered by a resurgent KKR in the next. But from there they rose superbly, going from being the last team to snatch points to being the first team in the final with three tremendous batting displays, putting up three consecutive 200+ scores, the last two of them chases.
Chris Gayle, Dilshan and Virat Kohli have done an immense job with tiny but useful contributions from Saurabh Tiwary, Mayank Agarawal, Vettori and Kaif. The absence of de Villiers could have hurt them but even his replacement Arun Karthik has made his contribution to the team’s progress.
Malinga is a different beast though and the batsmen will try to play him out while taking on the others. On the harsh pitches for bowling, Malinga’s low level missiles have turned matches for Mumbai and helped them reach the final and will be instrumental if they are to win the CLT20. It is the sort of bowling that RCB has lacked this season.
One decent performance against Somerset has been bookended by two hapless defences in the beginning which nearly derailed their CLT20 and two poor offences which conceded 200 plus scores in consecutive games. Daniel Vettori has led but no one followed, Syed Mohammad was good but is now out with an injury while Aravind and Nannes have been expensive and wicketless. Abhimanyu Mithun was dropped after a poor bowling and fielding performance in the opener while Bhatkal has been somewhat economical but no wicket taking threat.
Gayle’s part time off spin has been expensive as well but thankfully Dilshan came up with the goods in the semi final, returning precious figures of 1/10 from his four overs to crucially delay a Warner onslaught. The team may look at Ryan Ninan or Abrar Kazi as back up tonight but are not likely to change a set line up, depending on Dilshan again.
The atmosphere too will be a tough test for the team. The sapping heat of Chennai can be formidable opponent for bowlers and batsmen, a far cry from the more pleasant Bangalore nights. The crowd could be a partisan one too, considering the history of the Ranji rivalry between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, despite perennial Ranji champions Mumbai being present too. All that could change when Gayle, Dilshan or Kohli get going and RCB will hope they do so tonight.
With inputs from RCB Web TV crew member Vikram Afzulpurkar