The battle for the top spot in the Indian Premier League table will go down to the wire as top-placed Chennai Super Kings lock horns with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are second, at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Sunday.
The winner of this match will finish top of the IPL-IV league table and face the winner of the match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The Chennai Super Kings are on 18 points, while RCB are a point behind on 17. KKR and Mumbai Indians are both on 16 and the winner of their clash at the Eden Gardens in Sunday's late match will most likely finish second. However, there are so many permutations and combinations involved that no scenario is beyond the realms of possibility.
Poor away record
CSK come into the match having completed a perfect run at home, winning all seven matches at the MA Chidambaran Stadium. However, MS Dhoni's men have been very poor on the road, winning just 2 of their 6 matches.
Chennai's away woes can be attributed to a mental block more than anything else, as the same bunch that has been unbeatable at home has been made to look pedestrian on their travels. CSK's woeful away run could also be attributed to the poor form of the bowlers, who have failed to have the same kind of impact away from home. The spin on the Chepauk track has been utilised by R Ashwin and Shadab Jakati. However, on the road, they haven't been as successful. While CSK's batting has been very balanced, it has been exactly the opposite for RCB. Their over-dependence on Chris Gayle --- whose blistering batting led them to seven straight wins after a horror start --- was exposed by the Kings XI Punjab. Gayle was out for a duck, and the rest of the batsmen failed to step up to the plate.
Vettori, Zaheer back
Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers can be as lethal, if not as destructive, as Gayle. However, owing to Gayle's dream run with the bat, the duo, especially de Villiers, has hardly spent any time in the middle. RCB, however, have been boosted by the return of their two bowling spearheads - skipper Daniel Vettori and pace ace Zaheer Khan.