Match#14: Chennai Super Kings v/s Royal Challengers Bangalore
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai
Form Guide: CSK- Win, Loss, RCB- Win, Loss, Loss,
After the first innings of Chennai’s last game against The Kings XI Punjab, it would not have been far-fetched to presume that if Mahendra Singh Dhoni had walked off the pitch and refused to come back, instead demanding to stand for the ongoing elections- even the great Rajni Sir would probably have considered this very reasonable demand. Only ‘consider’, MIND IT!
In fact, He would have even gone a step ahead and graciously offered Dhoni an email ID called Dhoni@Rajnikanth.com- such was the hold that one man had over an entire nation already in remarkable awe of him. What’s more, he even unveiled his fast-disappearing helicopter shot in the penultimate over and thereby disproved the scientifically proved theory of a sportsman/woman’s (before we’re hit with diamond-encrusted sandals) performance being inversely proportional to his/her marital life (or personal life, in case of Yuvraj and Virat). Before a crazed fan decides to go on a cricket fast-until-death and refuses to bleed blue anymore, let me clearly state that this rule never did/never will apply to a little-known cricketer named Sachin Tendulkar.
Two hours later, 75% of the country was forcefully made aware of a supremely talented Indian batsman from the Kings XI team who nobody had previously heard of (except, of course, Shane Warne. Again. Yes.) But that is another matter altogether, and this man will further be decoded fittingly during the next Punjab game (which, not very coincidentally, is after this). That a new star was born, was in no way Dhoni’s fault. In fact, thankfully, it made him look human all over again. It could have something to do with the fact that his bowlers are trying their very best to destroy his yellow cape, but they could argue that they are only promoting the human race. Though he could always take solace in the fact that R. Ashwin and Suresh Raina are yet to fire- as long as he is not faced with the same comforting thought a month from now.
In not-so-stark contrast, Royal Challengers Bangalore, who are still trying to accustom themselves to the newly acquired tag of this edition’s underachiever (also known as the Delhi belly) status, need to redeem themselves after a gut-wrenching soul-stirring (for the neutral) loss to a rejuvenated Deccan side who have finally discovered the true meaning of ‘home and away’. The Challengers will desperately be hoping it to be a mere coincidence that the coveted trio of Dilshan, AB and Dirk Nannes were previously DareDevils (who are no strangers to underperforming themselves)
Chennai Super Kings: (Winners- 2010, Semi finalists 2008, 2009)
When the top 5 batsmen of any IPL side boast of local (Indian) youngsters, any captain would be proud of their franchise- for they are truly promoting talent. Never mind that half of them flatter to deceive on the International stage and the other half get to freeload in a World Champion side just for being picked. But when 3 of the Indian (local talent again) bowlers in the same side go for a double-figure economy rate more often than not, the captain must desperately be hoping for his hair to grow back just so that he could pull it out again.
Such has been the story of the current IPL champions (atleast in the 2 games so far). Yes, they may have been the only team to have provided close and exciting games- but ask England how soothing that thought may seem once they crash out early. Chennai’s first win was not convincing, and their first loss was equally convincing. The message is clear- Mr. Dhoni, if you could win the World Cup with a mediocre bowling attack, we will try our best to look mediocre so that you can win us this IPL too! Though one is not sure if Dhoni will want to warm up to such a strategy anytime soon.
Player to look out for: S. Badrinath.
The reliable batsman consistently dips under the radar in a star-heavy Chennai team, and that formula seems to be working for the workhorse. A useful middle-order batsman, as he has proved time and again, India could fall back on him if Suresh Raina goes woefully out of form. Or if Virat has a hangover. Or if Rohit Sharma continues to be Rohit Sharma. Or if….well, you get the point.
‘We’re such gluttons!’
Also, MS Dhoni might now want to take matters into his own hands- firstly, by not grassing catches and then maybe by changing his team (read bowling) composition. Yo Mahesh could get a look-in very soon, and so could the man forever etched in Dhoni’s memory (and dreams, one way or the other)- Nuwan Kulusekara.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: (Finalists 2009, Semi finalists 2010)
The highest scorer of the World cup, formerly known as T. Dilshan, is now a mere shadow of the man that plundered the (weaker) bowling attacks just a fortnight ago on tailor-made Sri Lankan pitches.
His new IPL team, promptly backing their prolific run-scorer, formerly known as the Royal Challengers Bangalore- are also a mere shadow of the team that made a mockery out of the wham-bam format of the IPL last year. In a good way, of course.
They seem to have lost their way a bit- and the arrival of a stellar international set of players to replace the irreplaceable Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn haven’t done them a world of good. Atleast not yet. AB De Villiers looks like the person most likely to break that trend, sooner- if not later. But, as proven in the last game, even he cannot do much after an early flurry of wickets while chasing a score of more than 170 (which might happen quite often now which brings us to….
Zaheer Khan coming back to form has only been accompanied by his other bowlers discovering equally dreadful form against pre-meditated attacks. Not a good omen- definitely not if you have the best left-arm seamer and left arm spinner on this earth presently and are still being pounded into whimpering submission not dissimilar to one’s condition after consuming one too many team-branded beers (or is it the other way around?)
Player to watch out for: Virat Kohli.
He seems the most determined of the batsmen even now, and he is trying hard to adapt back to the format that played a major role in him being one of the youngest Indian World Champion players ever. But a glaring error: a premeditated cross-front-footed technique- seems to be there for the taking against the smarter bowlers who may have noticed this already.
Nevertheless, the only way to go from here is UP. And that is a bright thought for a team lacking belief at the moment.
Prediction: How things have changed in the matter of two days. The two teams that engage in battle following this game were the scapegoats just a day or two back, and now we have the supposedly stronger contenders fighting for an elusive much-needed momentum-gaining (vocabulary overdrive) win.
But class is class- so a Chennai win could be on the cards. Hopefully, Vettori will take solace from the fact that his team gets to attend regular beer-tasting sessions and that the best airline in the country is named after that beer- which is also the airline that transports them from one venue to another.
And no, it is NOT a coincidence that the owner of his team is also the owner of the beer and the airline.
‘But papa said the job was easy!’