Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings
24th T20 Venue: M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru Time: 02:30 PM GMT, 08:00 PM IST
The men and women at the Royal Challengers Bangalore can be forgiven for casting a longing glance at their next opposition. After all, Chennai Super Kings have typified the sort of success that the Bengaluru-based franchise have craved through their decade of disappointment. The RCB fan base remains defiant and vociferous, but its CSK counterpart – ever-vibrant, ever-loyal – knows exactly what the ultimate gratification for undying support feels like. Mumbai Indians emerged as the flag-bearers of the first decade of IPL courtesy their third title in 2017, but CSK remain the ‘most consistent’ team – making six finals out of eight, winning two and even pocking a couple of titles at the now-defunct Champions League T20.
As the teams square off for the first time since 2015, the gulf between the two is quite telling. CSK enjoy a 12-7 head-to-head advantage in 20 meetings, and are unbeaten in the last four encounters between the two. They’ve also nullified RCB’s home ground advantage – if there’s such a thing in cricket – with a 3-3 tally in seven outings. To add to it, RCB had to be content being second-best after running into CSK in the 2011 IPL final, and have won just one of the four tussles in the knockout and playoff rounds.
In two big chases – against Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians – RCB fell short because none of the batsmen could support Kohli. Against MI in particular, the skipper carried his bat with a 62-ball 92 in vain as the second-best score was Quinton de Kock’s 19.
The bowling departments of both sides have been plagued by similar ills – lack of control in the death overs. They have conceded totals of 200 and above [once by CSK, twice by RCB] and are in need of addressing that issue at the earliest. Wednesday’s fixture could be a good starting point for that endeavour for both teams, before they head into a period when the jostle for a spot in the top-half will intensify.
What to expect:
A cloudy evening, with thunderstorms earlier in the day. The weather forecast for Wednesday is very similar to what it was last Saturday, when RCB hosted DD. It is likely to be another slow wicket to bat first on, with dew assisting run-making in the second. Toss, as always, will be of paramount importance.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Moeen Ali and Parthiv Patel batted for long hours in the nets two days ahead of the fixture, but that’s been the case since they’ve joined up with RCB. It is unlikely that Virat Kohli & co. will make changes to a winning side.
Royal Challenger Bangalore’s Players:-
Quinton de Kock, Manan Vohra, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Corey Anderson, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Chris Woakes, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal.
Chennai Super Kings:
Head coach Stephen Fleming confirmed that Imran Tahir is fit again, and hinted at using two leg-spinners for the game. That means Tahir could return in place of either Faf du Plessis or Sam Billings. If the former is retained, then Ambati Rayudu will continue to hold a middle-order role, else he might be required to open the batting with Shane Watson again. Fleming also talked about playing a third spinner in Harbhajan in order to tie down left-handers, but it might be a stretch for CSK to go with three spinners, in spite of the slowness of the track.
If RCB go unchanged, they’ll have three left-handers in the line-up – Quinton de Kock, Corey Anderson and Washington Sundar, but with two of the most important players being right-handed, CSK are likely to stick with Karn to partner Tahir.
Chennai Super Kings Players:
Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, Sam Billings/Faf du Plessis, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Karn Sharma/Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur