Royal Challengers are in an almost do-or-die situation at the moment. After winning against Mumbai Indians, Virat Kohli and co have got some confidence back, but they are still four points behind the coveted playoff spot and another loss might just put an end to that hope.
Chennai Super Kings, on the other hand, have the possibility to leapfrog Sunrisers Hyderabad to claim the top spot in the league table, should they manage to defeat Royal Challengers on Saturday. That would also consolidate Chennai’s chance to finish in the top four in the league log.
In the first leg of the tournament, it was a high-scoring affair at Chinnaswamy Stadium. Batting first, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh chipped in with useful contributions to register a humongous 205 on the board. But, even that total was not enough in front of an in-form Ambati Rayudu and the great finisher MS Dhoni. This duo put a magnificent 101-run partnership after the fall of four wickets, and that took the game away from Royal Challengers.
The home side travelled to Kolkata to play their last match against the Knight Riders. Decent batting from everyone in the top order helped Chennai set a target of 178. Dhoni’s bowlers then started well with a wicket in the very first over, and then reduced Kolkata to 97/4 in the 12th over. However, skipper Dinesh Karthik and youngster Shubman Gill then hit the ball at will to reach the target comfortably. The Chennai captain was clearly not impressed with his bowlers and fielders and he will want a different approach this time.
Meanwhile, an all-round effort from the Royal Challengers players helped them win their last outing against a struggling Mumbai. Being set a target of 168, it required resilient batting performance from Rohit Sharma’s boys, but the top order failed miserably. Hardik Pandya was the sole bright spot in the Mumbai batting, while Tim Southee was the pick of the bowlers. Eventually, the Bangalore side got a well-deserved 14-run-victory.
Chennai might go with a couple of changes to strengthen their bowling department. Faf du Plessis has got a couple of chances so far, and put decent scores on the board. But, truth be told, he has looked out of sort during both innings. Moreover, Rayudu has been a brilliant opening partner to Shane Watson, and the middle order of Chennai has been exquisite with Raina, Dhoni and Bravo hitting important runs throughout the tournament. This might prompt Dhoni to include David Willey or Imran Tahir in place of Faf. Shardul Thakur should also come in for Karn Sharma who has not performed at all so far.
Royal Challengers will surely bring in de Villiers who has missed the last two outings due to viral fever. He will be a straight swap with de Kock who has travelled to South Africa to attend a wedding. That would further mean the first chance this year for Parthiv Patel. Manan Vohra, in that case, will have to make way for the wicketkeeper.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (C & Wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, David Willey/Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Lungi Ngidi, Shardul Thakur, KM Asif.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Parthiv Patel (Wk), Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Colin de Grandhomme, Washington Sundar, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Siraj.