Star-studded clash between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore restarts IPL
Dwayne Smith, MS Dhoni, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina in yellow. Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Yuvraj Singh in red. On the face of it at least, there is not a more explosive match-up in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
It all points to a high-voltage clash between the Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday.
What appeared to be a flagging campaign for Bangalore was brought to life by Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 29-ball 68 that earned them a 16-run win against the Delhi Daredevils last Tuesday.
While that gave Kohli’s men their fourth win and kept them afloat in sixth place, they will be the first to admit that their batting has been nowhere near its best.
While Parthiv Patel has looked in good touch, Kohli and Gayle have had an unusual slump. That has often restricted De Villiers, one of the most ruthless finishers in IPL, to a damage-limitation role, coming in earlier than expected.
Between the four batsmen, however, there is a wealth of experience to bank on and they will need to click against Chennai with time running out to make the play-offs
On the other hand, with eight wins in 10 matches, Chennai have a top-two finish in their sights.
Traditionally slow starters, the team has blazed through the group stages, with Smith and McCullum, their latest acquisitions, setting the tone at the top of the order and Dhoni finishing games off.
In between, Raina, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja have all played their roles to perfection. If the team needs an all-round option, they can have a look at David Hussey, who has been signed on as a late replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo.
However, while the batting unit picks itself, no amount of praise can be enough for the relatively inexperienced Indian bowlers – Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey – who, along with R Ashwin, have lent Chennai a balance that has allowed them to play with three foreign batsmen.
The playing surface in the previous game between Chennai and Rajasthan Royals offered slow turn, which means Samuel Badree, who conceded just 19 off his four overs while picking up a wicket in that game, could be retained in the playing XI. If Gayle’s record against spin – as compared to his exploits against the faster men – is taken into account, there is more reason for Chennai to stick to a predominantly spin-based attack.
Unlike Chennai, who have a balanced team, Bangalore have plenty of issues to grapple with. Mitchell Starc and Yuzvendra Chahal have been outstanding so far, but beyond them, the bowling cupboard has looked bare. Ashok Dinda and Varun Aaron have proved expensive and Albie Morkel’s role has not been defined as clearly as it was when he was with Chennai. Bangalore have tested out the likes of Abu Nechim Ahmed and Harshal Patel instead of Dinda and Aaron, but whether they continue to show faith in the less experienced bowlers remains to be seen. Against a team that plays spinners as well as anyone, they could contemplate bringing Ravi Rampaul in for Muttiah Muralitharan, even though the Sri Lankan legend can still turn the ball a mile like he did in his glory days.
A four-day break in the middle of the summer allowed both sides the luxury of rejuvenating themselves. The much-awaited verdict of India’s general elections put cricket and the IPL on the backburner, even if just for a short while.
But on Sunday, fans can rest assured that cricket will be back in focus and the fans could not ask for a juicier clash to kick off the business end of the competition.
Published: May 17, 2014 04:00 AM