“It doesn’t matter who we play in the semifinal. We need to play well and beat the opposition without bothering who they are,” said Anil Kumble. It may not matter to Kumble, but spectators, especially in India, would have wanted the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the two high-profile IPL teams, to clash in the final instead of the semifinal on Friday.
After the disappointing outing in the inaugural edition of the Champions League, where none of them could make it to the semis, the IPL teams have set the record straight this time by securing two semifinal berths. “Two teams from India have qualified and one will go to the final. I think all three IPL teams have played decent cricket this time,” said Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni.
The larger picture of IPL teams doing well will though be forgotten the moment the two sides take the field in Durban.
Both teams had an almost similar run-up to the semis — losing the penultimate game in the league before coming back to win the all-important last contest. Both would be high on confidence, but Bangalore perhaps start with a slight advantage.
The RCB have a better idea of the conditions in Durban, which are diametrically opposite to those in Port Elizabeth.
While the Kingsmead track has been quick and bouncy, St George’s Park has been quite slow, especially in the last few matches played here. Coming from these conditions, the Super Kings might find it a bit hard to adjust. The RCB, on the other hand, have had a long stay in Durban and would know what to expect.
The Super Kings’ strength lies in their spin attack, and, except for Doug Bollinger, they don’t have a pacer who can instill a sense of fear. Albie Morkel would have been handy but he’s injured and the team isn’t sure if he would be available for selection.
On their part, not many Super Kings’ batsmen are comfortable against rising deliveries. They had struggled to cope with the mediocre Central Stags’ attack, and Dale Steyn will surely test them.
The RCB have a superb mix of aggression and caution in both departments and look the better team in these conditions, even without Jacques Kallis.
But surprisingly, they lost both their matches in Durban. “I don’t see Durban as a place where we lost two matches. It was just a matter of a couple of runs and we are going into the semis with lot of positives drawn from those games,” said Kumble.
The RCB appear to have the upper hand, but can you ever count out a team led by Dhoni?