The Chennai Super Kings return to their adopted home after being beaten by KKR on the road to face the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Super Kings have lost two of their previous three matches, while the Challengers are 6th in a table that lies very open, with four teams tied on 3 wins each so far.
The home side will want to arrest this recent slide with the race to the top 2 tightening with every match. The Challengers need to win five of their remaining six to qualify, making every match a virtual semi-final. Can they make it two in two, or will CSK return to winning ways?
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson.
Chennai Super Kings
MS Dhoni (c), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Deepak Chahar, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey.
Where the teams stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Challengers were outstanding with the ball against Mumbai, especially in the death and initial overs. This comes after a series of expensive games where leaky bowling regularly demanded too much from the batsmen. Washington Sundar was the only one to have an off-day. The spinner has been struggling after a great start to the season. He has been in and out of the team, and after last match, he may be out for this one. Negi and Ashwin are their two other options. The latter was effective with the ball, but his performance on the field stood out with a crucial dropped catch and butt. Umesh Yadav was spectacular once again. His swingers are a treat to watch, and they have out-foxed many a batsman this season. Bringing Southee in has also proved to be the right choice. RCB will need their bowling to hit their stride again to combat a dangerous CSK batting lineup. Yadav, in particular, will be the key.
The Bangalore batting leaving Kohli also contributed handily to get them to 167 against MI on an inconsistent pitch. Vohra was explosive at the top after two disappointing games, while McCullum and de Grandhomme justified their place in the side as well. The only questionable aspect here is Kohli coming in at four, a position simply too low for a batsman of his quality. Another possible quandary is the return of AB and who he will replace. McCullum has scores of 38 and 37 in the last two games, while de Kock has failed to build on starts all season. The latter being dropped would give RCB their best possible combination with the batting, but AB will have to take up the glove work if this materializes. Regardless, RCB possesses a destructive lineup which, combined with some good bowling, could go on to derail the CSK season a bit.
Fantasy Picks: McCullum, Kohli, and Mandeep Singh are the top picks from this side. Umesh Yadav is another must have, while Chahal and Siraj have been performing in recent games.
Chennai Super Kings
CSK have batted first in all their three previous games, winning just one of them. They scored 211 in the one game they won. CSKs batsmen are heavily reliant on good performances from three players, Raina, Rayudu, and Dhoni. They, along with Shane Watson occasionally, have been the main run-getters for CSK, and one of them has managed to fire in each of the last few games. However, CSK have failed to build partnerships, forcing pressure on individuals as the players around them get out relatively cheaply. Rayudu and Watson vs Yadav will be an interesting contest. If he can get one of them out early, it will be an uphill task for CSK to rebuild their innings and finish strongly.
The home side has sorely missed Deepak Chahar, who has been sidelined due to injury. Dhoni has brought in KM Asif to replace him, who has conceded at a rate of 14 and 11 in the two games he has played. Bravo and Watson have both been very expensive while Ngidi was too against KKR. Harbhajan and Jadeja have been their most economical bowlers, the former more so than the latter. CSK have a tendency to be leaky with the ball in matches, and against a power-packed RCB lineup, it will be interesting to see how they combat each other. They have been very poor in the field as well. Jadeja dropped Narine twice in two consecutive balls, and both of them were sitters. Why he is in the team is a mystery. Regardless, CSK have been unpredictable all season, and they are always on the verge of exploding as a unit. Will this be the match where it happens next?
Fantasy Picks: Dhoni, Rayudu, and Raina are the obvious ones. Harbhajan has been very economical recently, while Watson is an explosive option with the bat.
CSK win. Though recent records suggest an RCB victory, they are far too inconsistent, and CSK will not keep losing in the IPL.
Can the Super Kings snare a vital victory, or will the Royal Challengers be too good? Let us know in the comments and poll below.