T20- CHENNAI SUPER KINGS V/S ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE

Bhash Mankad

Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
 

May 18th , 2013

Form Guide ( Last 5 matches )

CSK – WLWLW

RCB – WLWLL
 
The great French philosopher Voltaire defined Optimism rather succinctly stating thus "Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable". Never have these words sounded more prescient to the disillusioned yet die hard Indian fans,  particularly with respect to the sordid saga that has unfolded in the last couple of days off the field in the T20. The fans who have valiantly braved the soaring heat of the Indian Summer and flocked the stadiums match after match shall be smarting from the maniacal turn of events that they have witnessed. Therefore, now more than ever, it is the collective responsibility of the players, administrators, organizers and team owners to cleanse the system in order to instill the faith of the fan back in the game and thereby give the fans the sense of respect they richly deserve.
 
 
Heading into this match, both these teams find themselves in contrasting situations more particularly after the Sunrisers win over the Rajasthan Royals last night. Dhoni and his men are safely ensconced on the top of the table and are guaranteed a top 2 spot regardless of the result of today’s match. The RCB on the other hand, are a team that have rather inexplicably lost steam just when they could have least afforded to. They find themselves in dire straits as they face a very tough opponent in what is a must win match for them. In addition to this, their progress would also hinge on an unlikely  KKR win against SRH in the last match of the season. The only solace for RCB is the fact that their net Run Rate is marginally better than SRH and they would go through in the event that both teams are tied on points.
 

Royal Challengers Bangalore 
Virat Kohli would do well to firstly mend fences with his Indian teammate Gautam Gambhir after their ugly on field spat as RCB’s progress in the competition depends as much on KKR’s victory against SRH as their own. More importantly, RCB need to focus on the job at hand and get their act together in their bowling department if they have to entertain any hopes of survival in the tournament. Virat Kohli had joked that RCB’s last ball finishes this season had resulted in his beard turning grey prematurely but when he was probed further, he did allude to the fact  that the real reason of his predicament is his bowler’s economy rates which on all accounts have been disastrous this season.
 
RCB shot themselves in the foot in the last match by dropping Ravi Rampaul and Murali Karthik, both of whom have been their most economical bowlers this season while all their other bowlers have leaked runs consistently at crucial times. The ease with which Punjab overhauled a competitive total in their last game would have surely unnerved Kohli and he would be desperate to get his balance right for this all important game. Kohli must now show the ability to take some hard decisions as even the much hyped return of Zaheer Khan did not yield the desired effect. VK would also have to probably drop Henriques for Rampaul even if that it would mean thinning his middle order. It also wouldn’t be a bad decision for RCB to chase and put the added pressure on their batting to pull them through rather than depend on their weaker link which is their bowling to defend a total against the likes of Hussey, Raina and Co.
 

X factor: Virat Kohli. Indian fans would know that this man has had a penchant of scoring runs whenever his team has had their backs to the wall. His superlative centuries for India against Sri Lanka at Hobart and against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in must win situations are evidence that "Chikoo" has the guts and gumption to churn out his best knocks when put in a corner. In the event of Gayle faltering, RCB fans shall pin their hopes on  another master-class from Kohli and a captain’s knock in this crunch match would also help VK to be in a positive frame of mind for the Champions trophy that is just around the corner.
 

Chennai Super Kings
CSK find themselves in familiar territory at the top of the perch by virtue of being the most consistent team in the history of the league. CSK would look at this game as a dress rehearsal for the playoffs and it would be a good confidence booster for their bowling if they are able to hold their own against the trio of Gayle, Kohli and De Villiers. Dhoni is known to be a captain who loves to spring a surprise on the opposition and it would be interesting to see if he tests his bench strength in what is an otherwise inconsequential game for his team. What MSD must have at the back of his mind is that his team faces the Mumbai Indians next in the play offs which is the only team that has beaten them twice in this competition and therefore a win in their last league game would help to add that extra spark to the CSK juggernaut. The only cause of concern for Dhoni is the form of his spinners and particularly Ashwin who has looked half-baked this season and his return to form would be crucial to ensure CSK have all their bases covered as they look to regain their title that they narrowly missed out on in the last edition.
 

X Factor: Dwayne Bravo : The newly appointed captain of the West Indies cricket team for the Champions trophy has been largely instrumental in CSK’s success this season. The Trinidadian has had a fantastic outing with the ball and has chipped in with important wickets at crucial times that has resulted in him being the surprise holder of the purple cap at most times this season. To add to this, Bravo has been brilliant in the field is also a dangerous finisher with the bat which is the reason that he can be a source of great headache to the opposition. Bravo shall be looking to continue his tremendous form along with his inimitable dance moves in front of the Chinnaswamy crowd.

Prediction: RCB may live to rue the fact that an RP Singh no ball on the last ball when these two teams clashed may well come back to haunt them as they look back at their season. Not many teams have been able to push CSK to the hilt as they did in their outing at Chennai and RCB would need a really inspired performance to upset the CSK applecart. However, with all to play for at the Chinnaswamy, RCB would have to go hell for leather and stretch themselves to the limit to play a brand of fearless cricket which  will probably be the only way that they would pip CSK to the post.

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