Both Chennai and Bangalore have had to sweat a great deal to be where they are today. Chennai were helped by that abandoned game in Cape Town on April 25, which gave them the cushion of an extra point. Bangalore are on a roll, having won seven of their last nine games. Both would trade punch for a punch on Saturday.
Two of the teams’ known flaws, acknowledged even by their skippers, appear to have been ironed out. Mahendra Singh Dhoni went public with his criticism of his bowlers and fielders’ inability to defend even 188 runs. His boys responded to their skipper's show of displeasure by defending a lowly 116 against the Kings XI.
The Royal Challengers were beset with batting blues. It had become a standing joke that to lose your first wicket in the first over, if not the first ball, was so much “Bangalorean”. That impression has gone, what with their opener Manish Pandey becoming the first Indian to hit an IPL hundred on Thursday.
Chennai fans might flaunt their team’s 92-run victory margin, the biggest in this IPL, against the Challengers early on. But the Challengers returned the compliment in the second match so as to deny the Super Kings the luxury of arrogance.
Chennai would be worried by the winning streak that Bangalore have managed. Anil Kumble is a skipper who leads from the front. The legend pointedly bowled the first over against Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist, the two most destructive openers in this IPL.
Bangalore would worry about Hayden, who gives Chennai that aura of invincibility. M.S. Dhoni's theory of keeping allrounders in the middle-order, instead of genuine batsmen, would face another litmus test.
So far, Jacob Oram has managed mere 79 runs. Five wickets from 10 matches also isn't much to crow about.
Bangalore would hope that Rahul Dravid has truly returned to form. Jacques Kallis and Ross Taylor, to go with Pandey, Roelef van der Merwe, Mark Boucher and Robin Uthappa, make up a decent line-up. They have overcome all odds to be here so only fools would write them off. TCM