It is a common philosophy of life which states that everyone deserves a second chance. Gladly, this philosophy is even followed in the Indian Premier League. By the virtue of finishing among the top 2 in the first round, the Chennai Super Kings have another opportunity to make it to the finals despite losing their first qualifier. The men from Chennai were criminally below par against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium. Firstly, their bowling was lackluster. They failed to keep the Mumbai batsmen in check and could only restrict them once the damage was already done. Secondly, MS Dhoni’s captaincy wasn’t up to the mark. He began with two of his best bowlers and gave three overs apiece. Ashwin should have been kept to attack the likes of Pollard and Sharma, but that was not to be.
The batting of Chennai too was nowhere near its best. Dwayne Smith is probably enduring the worst form of his IPL career. Mike Hussey clearly looked rusty; while Suresh Raina has been below par this season. Their woes were compounded by the brilliance of Harbhajan Singh.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore though, simply made a mess of the Rajasthan Royals. AB De Villiers and Mandeep Singh provided whole some entertainment. Going into the second qualifier, it can be said that the Royal Challengers begin as the favourites based on current form. But against Dhoni’s team, and in his home town, it will be far from easy!
CLASHES THIS SEASON:
The first time these teams met on the 22nd of April in Bangalore. Riding on Suresh Raina’s fantastic 62 off 32, the Chennai Super Kings got to a total of 181. The Royal Challengers were paralyzed by the sensational show of Ashish Nehra. Nehra was at his best and dented the hosts completely. Captain Virat Kohli though, resisted and could have well taken the Royal Challengers past the victory line, but a fine catch on the boundary saw his end. The Super Kings won the game by 27 runs and Raina was the Man of the Match.
The second encounter between these teams on the 4th of May was similar as their first clash. The Super Kings batted first and again it was Suresh Raina who did well. But this time, the men in yellow, got to an under par score of 148. However, once again the Super Kings bowling was on fire and only Kohli resisted to a certain extent. But a sharp presence of mind from Dwayne Bravo ensured Kohli’s exit. The visitors could only manage 124 and Suresh Raina was once again the Man of the Match. It must be noted that in both the games, Chris Gayle was rested.
In his home town MS Dhoni will be nothing short of a ferocious beast! In Ranchi before, Dhoni has just annihilated the likes of Dale Steyn and Thisara Perera while batting for the Super Kings. By Dhoni’s standards, this has been a mediocre IPL for him with the bat. He may have got above 300 runs, but that does not justify Dhoni’s potential. Known to excel in knockouts, the Royal Challengers better be wary of this best!
Ashwin has got the better of Gayle on several occasions. One of those occasions was the final of the 2011 IPL. Ashwin did not have an ideal outing against the Mumbai Indians and he would want to rectify that by performing well today. This has been among Ashwin’s best IPL seasons. He has bowled extremely well and with an open mind. Today though, will be Ashwin’s biggest day.
The last time Kohli batted in Ranchi in any form, he got a century to his name against Sri Lanka. Kohli will surely love batting on the strip at the JSCA stadium. In both the games against the Super Kings, Kohli was the only RCB batsman to have shown any resistance. Kohli is a batsman who thrives in pressure situations. Situations like today’s game are tailor made for him. He surely will hold the aces for the Royal Challengers.
This man’s contribution for the Royal Challengers is simply beyond words. His presence has been the turning point for the men from Bangalore. With Chennai openers looking out of sorts, it will be an ideal opportunity for Starc to strike early. Starc’s main test though, will be at the death overs against MS Dhoni. A battle won there will greatly shift the balance of the game towards the Royal Challengers.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS:
As usual, they will retain the same XI.
1. M. Hussey 2. D. Smith 3. F. Du Plessis 4. S. Raina 5. MS Dhoni 6. D. Bravo 7. R. Jadeja 8. P. Negi 9. R. Ashwin 10. M. Sharma 11. A. Nehra
ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE:
The men in red too are expected to retain the winning combo.
1. C. Gayle 2. V. Kohli 3. AB De Villiers 4. D. Karthik 5. M. Singh 6. S. Khan 7. D. Weise 8. M. Starc 9. H. Patel 10. Y. Chahal 11. S. Aravind