IPL 2018: Chennai Super Kings focus on bowling issues v desperate Royal Challengers Bangalore
The 2018 Indian Premier League has reached a stage where the gap between the top and bottom-placed teams has started to get wider. The next couple of rounds are going to be make-or-break, where the every contestant will look to consolidate.
It’s against this backdrop that Chennai Super Kings host Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
The yellow brigade is back in a familiar position, occupying second spot in the league table with six wins from nine matches. But after defeats in their last two outings they are in danger of losing their early momentum and would be wary of being dragged down the table.
For RCB, the situation is desperate. They are just about hanging close to the top four and any more reversals will signal their death knell.
Precariously placed at No 5, Virat Kohli’s men have themselves to blame. Despite having six home matches in the first leg, they have just three wins in eight games.
The last time the two teams met, it produced a high-scoring thriller. Naturally, expectations of another cracker are high at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
In Bangalore, having piled up 205, RCB had the game in the bag when they reduced CSK to 72/4 in 9.1 overs. To the disbelief of the M Chinnaswamy Stadium crowd, MS Dhoni played a trademark innings, smashing an unbeaten 70 off 34 balls to power CSK home with two balls to spare.
Both outfits are studded with stroke players who should love the Pune wicket. Out of their three innings at their adopted home, CSK have crossed 200 twice. In their previous outing here, Dhoni and Co amassed 211/4. Still, Delhi Daredevils’ young brigade gave them a scare, finishing on 198/5.
The strategies of both teams will be built around whether AB de Villiers is fit to play. RCB would desperately hope their talismanic batsman, down with fever, returns. The South African star has been in the kind of form where he can single-handedly take games away from the opposition. According to his syndicated column, he is optimistic of playing.
CSK will be favourites, but RCB will take heart from how Kolkata Knight Riders stopped the Chennai giants in their tracks on Thursday.
Also, RCB come into the game having defeated Mumbai Indians, riding on a fine performance of their bowling unit that defended 167.
Their batsmen are having a blast but CSK’s bowling is a worry. Their morale would taken a further hit when KKR coasted chased down 177 at the Eden Gardens.
Even in the first leg, CSK bowlers had come up a cropper with AB de Villiers’ whirlwind 30-ball 68 taking RCB to 205/8.
Starting with the Pune game, RCB will be on the road for most of the second phase. And Virat Kohli and Co will be hoping for a change in fortunes.