One-sided rivalry awaits the Dhoni, de Villiers touch


Big picture

Had Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers met before their respective previous matches this season, this contest would have had just that one familiar favourite. Take these stats into consideration: The last time Royal Challengers won against Super Kings was in 2014, and right now, they are a full 10 points behind the table toppers. CSK fans have enough to put any debate to rest against the supporters of the team in red.

Yet they were left bruised by Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday and Royal Challengers overcame, overcame an Andre Russell-special on Thursday, All that sets this clash up beautifully.

Super Kings’ batting has been largely dependent on MS Dhoni this year, and his absence from the side on Tuesday showed that. He’s bailed them out of danger in at least three instances this season and is also the side’s highest run-getter so far. And without him, the middle order (No. 4 to 7) could add only 37 runs to the total against Sunrisers.

Royal Challengers were also missing a key player in their last game – AB de Villiers – but their captain ensured his absence was never really felt. Kohli’s century made sure RCB posted a par-plus total at Eden Gardens while Super Kings – without their talisman – fell below this year’s average first-innings score at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium. Should the weather at home co-operate, RCB might just have a good chance to break their losing streak against CSK.

Team news

Super Kings’ coach Stephen Fleming said on the eve of the match that Dhoni (back spasm) and Bravo’s (hamstring) availability will depend on “how they scrub up” at the end of the training on Saturday. The CSK captain was, however, seen practising his big hits for nearly an hour.

De Villiers is understood to still be recovering from taking a bouncer to the head from Jasprit Bumrah and his availability will be subject to a return to full fitness.

Previous meeting

The highly-anticipated season opener where these two teams met ended up being one-sided with Super Kings routing the Royal Challengers for 70 on a slow surface at the MA Chidambaram. The hosts had chased it down with 14 balls to spare.

Likely XIs

Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers/Heinrich Klaasen, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Akshdeep Nath/Shivam Dube, 7 Pawan Negi, 8 Yuzvendra Chahal, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Mohammed Siraj

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Faf du Plessis, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Scott Kuggeleijn/Mitchell Santner, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir

Strategy Punt

  • De Villiers scored a cracking 30-ball 68 last year against Super Kings in Bengaluru. He had also scored a crucial 14-ball 28 in Royal Challengers’ last win against Super Kings, in 2014. There’s no doubt he’ll slot right back in if he’s fit. So, how can Super Kings stop him? Since IPL 2015, he’s lost his wicket 12 times in 31 games to legspinners. He’s also been having trouble picking the wrong’un, as he was exposed by Rajasthan Royals’ Shreyas Gopal earlier this month. Super Kings could use Tahir, who’s been their highest wicket-taker this season, against him. De Villiers has lost his wicket twice in three IPL games to his South African team-mate, and averages just 19.5 against him.

  • Dhoni boasts an average of 75.8 in IPLs at the M Chinnaswamy. His unbeaten 34-ball 70 had helped Super Kings chase 205 here last year. Royal Challengers could use Dale Steyn to weaken the Dhoni threat, considering the fast bowler has dismissed him twice in seven IPL innings.

Stats that matter

  • Super Kings need one more win to claim the joint-highest consecutive wins against a team. They have seven against Royal Challengers.

  • Kohli has the most runs (738) by any player against Super Kings, but he has not made a 30-plus score against them since their return last year and has averaged just 10.66.

  • In the last three games, Deepak Chahar has leaked 78 runs during Powerplay, bowling a total of eight overs. In the first six matches, he had conceded at an economy rate of just 5.6 in this phase.


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