RCB up against arch enemy
Chennai Super Kings vs Royal Challengers Bangalore 8pm
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai
Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings have met each other in a couple of high profile games but nothing has been needed at stake to make it a memorable match between the two sides.
The two played a thrilling game at the Chepauk last year. RCB all but had the game till the last two overs. The second leg of the rivalry saw rain washout RCB's home game against Chennai. Virat Kohli’s XI will want to make up for that loss today.
Chennai lost a close game to Mumbai Indians at home before notching up a big win against Kings XI Punjab away. The Chennai bowling attack looks formidable but MS Dhoni could fit in Albie Morkel in place of Chris Morris if he does not wish to lose Dirk Nannes’ early strikes. R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are settled as a pair too and have been operating cannily for Chennai. Ashwin especially has a history of dismissing Gayle and will be raring to exploit the Jamaican’s tentative play against spin early in his stay.
No one besides MS Dhoni turned up for their game against Mumbai while Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay gave no one else a chance to bat in their 10 wicket win at Mohali. The heavy batting line-up is still a formidable one and will be hard to bowl to on the batting friendly pitches at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
RCB’s own batting is in good form. Mayank Agarwal has found where he works out best for the team while Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle lead the tournament run charts and individual sixes chart respectively with Gayle just 7 behind Kohli in the run scorers list. AB spent time in the middle against Kolkata while Moises Henriques and Arun Karthik have shown to be capable of playing supporting roles. KL Rahul did not get a chance to bat against Kolkata but on a batting friendly, Kohli would do well to be prepared with an extra bowling option in the form of Murali Kartik.
He will remember his own over in the game in Chennai last year and that could be another reminder for him to keep enough specialist bowling options.
Muttiah Muralitharan won’t be available due to local political demands and Daniel Vettori could be making his return to the side in his place although whether Virat would want two slow left armers bowling against hitters like Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo remains to be seen. Virat’s other option lies in playing Ravi Rampaul, whose pace can be disconcerting even on the Chennai wicket.
Jaydev Unadkat and Vinay Kumar bowled much better against the Knight Riders than their figures suggest, but they will have to raise their game. RP Singh has done a wonderful job taking 3/27 in each of his two games, he will have to ensure a repeat at Chennai to give RCB as big an advantage as possible. Meanwhile Kohli will have to ensure the fielding is tighter this time, far too many overthrows were conceded against KKR. In the absence of Faf du Plessis CSK’s propensity to make safe starts means Kohli could slip in overs from Henriques early in the innings and put Chennai under pressure.
Of the IPL’s top 5 sides, RCB have looked the best, having beaten two of the big favourites Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders. Virat will be keen to ensure they add Chennai to that list too and emphasize on their status as contenders for the title this time.