RCB to face CSK in a high-voltage IPL encounter
An intense battle is on the cards as two in-form teams in star-studded Royal Challengers Bangalore and defending champions Chennai Super Kings lock horns in an important Indian Premier League encounter, here on 25th April.
Both RCB and CSK have hit form after a slow start to the tournament. While RCB has registered three back-to-back wins after a few defeats, CSK will be riding high on confidence following victories over Pune Warriors India and Rajsathan Royals in their last two matches.
But tomorrow's match at the M Chinnaswmay Stadium occupies special significance for RCB as they will be eyeing revenge following their lost to CSK in Chennai earlier this month. And the hosts, who would be desperate after the last-over loss to CSK in the away match, have the ammunition to dismantle the visitors' fort at home conditions.
RCB, who lost to CSK and Rajasthan Royals in a row, have improved a lot as the tournament progressed, winning three games on the trot and would be hoping to continue their unbeaten stretch.
RCB would be taking heart from the fact that they pulled off an easy win against Rajasthan Royals in their own backyard last night without much contributions from explosive Chris Gayle (4) and Virat Kohli (16).
To RCB's delight, Tillakaratne Dilshan and A B de Villiers have regained their lost touch, which should sound warning bells in the opposition camps.
Dilshan returned to form in style, scoring a match-winning unbeaten 76 and together with AB de Villiers, who scored a quickfire unbeaten 59 off just 23 balls, shared an unconquered 122-run fourth wicket partnership to propel RCB to 189 for three against Rajasthan last night.
But Virat Kohli's dismal form will be the only concern for RCB skipper Daniel Vettori ahead of the CSK tie.
Kohli have so far disappointed in the tournament, scoring just 129 runs from seven games, and the right-hander would be desperate to hit form and silence his critics sooner than later.
After his continuous failures at the number three position, Vettori yesterday promoted Kohli to open the innings with Dilshan instead of Gayle. But the move did not yield any fruitful result as not only Kohli disappointed again, Gayle also turned out to be a failure at the number four position.
So far, RCB's foreign recruits have been instrumental in the team's wins, but now it is high time for the domestic Indian players like Mayank Agarwal, Mohammad Kaif and Saurabh Tiwary to hit form and contribute.
On the bowling front, K P Appanna's four-wicket haul against Rajasthan last night have added arsenal into RCB's bowling attack, especially the spin department which will be spearheaded by skipper Vettori himself and also has Muttiah Muralitharan. Young fast bowler Harshal Patel has impressed all and sundry in the limited outings and is expected to blossom in the company of experienced Zaheer Khan.
Title holders CSK, on the other hand, have had mixed fortunes so far in the league with four wins and three losses and are placed fifth on the table.
But such a situation is not alien to the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led side.
In the last IPL also CSK fought back brilliantly by winning seven out of their last nine league matches to qualify for the play offs.
South African duo of opener Francois du Plessis and all-rounder Albie Morkel have been key players for CSK with Dhoni himself living up to his reputation of a clinical finisher with the bat.
Du Plessis has been a revelation with the bat, but the form of Suresh Raina is matter of grave concern. Raina has been off colour in the fifth edition, scoring just 138 runs from seven innings with a top score of 36.
His failure has disappointed CSK much in the absence of Michael Hussey, who is away on national duty, making the middle-order little bit shaky. CSK, however, will approach the match as favourites after beating RCB in this year's highest scoring match, which underlines their batting strength.
But Dhoni would look for a bit more discipline in the bowling department backed by some sharp fielding.