By Suneer Chowdhary
Chennai: May 27, 2011
The last time these two sides played, Chennai had overcome a sluggish start in their chase to overhaul the Bangalore score. That had allowed Chennai to enter the final while Bangalore had to take a slightly convolute route to get there. However, at the end of the competition, the two best teams in the competition, at least on the points table, will face-off against each other in the final of the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League at the M Chidamabaram in Chennai.
That win for the Super Kings had allowed them a break of three days even as Bangalore slugged it out on the day before the final. At the fag end of such a long tournament, the Super Kings would be a more pleased unit if not a fitter one, going into the final.
This is not to say that the Royal Challengers Bangalore will be second favourites by a long distance. Chennai would understand that the presence of Chris Gayle in the opposing line-up can do a lot of damage to the bowling morale. Where the Super Kings will be different from most other teams is with their fielding and the ability to keep fighting back.
On the other hand, Bangalore will take a lot of positives from their win against the Mumbai Indians. After a morale-shattering loss to Chennai, confidence will be one of the biggest pluses, so will the belief in the ability to defend totals after having failed to do so against the Super Kings.
Royal Challengers Bangalore’s worry, however, will be the form of the rest of the batsmen. Barring Gayle and Virat Kohi, the others haven’t done much to go into a pressure game like this with a lot of confidence. Saurabh Tiwary has dawdled around, Mayank Agarwal’s 41 in the Mumbai game notwithstanding, has very little experience while AB de Villiers hasn’t played an innings in anger for some time.
Contrast this to the Super Kings, who have all their batsmen in fine fiddle with the exception of Murali Vijay. Michael Hussey continues to bat through the innings on more occasions than not, Suresh Raina won them the last game against Bangalore, MS Dhoni’s finishing skills match those of Gayle’s at the start of the innings and S Badrinath has been the joker in the pack with his ability to play strokes that would enthral the purists and yet, cause no damage to the scoring rate.
The pitch can be expected to play the way it did in the Bangalore-Mumbai game. It will allow the batsmen to play their strokes to begin with but once the ball becomes older, the shot-making could become more difficult. This is why, Bangalore will continue to play Syed Mohammad as their fifth bowler and keep the extra batsman out. Chennai should go unchanged, unless, of course, Dhoni comes up with one of his favourite brainwaves but even then, the doubts will only be around Dwayne Bravo’s presence in the side.
Bangalore have entered the final once before, before going down to the Chargers in 2009. Chennai have won the tournament once, in 2010, after having ended as the losing finalists in 2008. If Bangalore win it, they will become the fourth side in four years to lift the trophy. On the other hand, it will be a second title for Chennai if they win.
CSK (Probable): Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (c&wk) , Wriddhiman Saha, S Badrinath, Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, R Ashwin, Shadab Jakati, Doug Bollinger.
RCB (Probable): Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers (wk), Virat Kohli, Saurabh Tiwary, Luke Pomersbach, Mayank Agarwal, Syed Mohammad, Zaheer Khan, Daniel Vettori (c), Abhimanyu Mithun, Sreenath Aravind
Time: 20.00 local (14.30 GMT)
(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at email@example.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)