In IPL playoffs RCB are yet to beat CSK © IANS
In IPL playoffs RCB are yet to beat CSK © IANS

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) will play Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Qualifier 2 of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 at Ranchi on Friday. CSK lost their last match quite severely; going down to Mumbai Indians (MI) by 25 runs in Qualifier 1. On the other hand, RCB smashed past Rajasthan Royals (RR) by 71 runs to win the Eliminator comprehensively. READ: Brendon McCullum praises IPL, but requests to protect Test cricket

In both matches, the side batting first won. Whoever wins the toss in the second qualifier could well follow suit and choose to bat first. CSK have lost a bit of their sheen with the departure of Brendon McCullum. The thought of him going ballistic would have given most bowlers sleepless nights. However, his replacement Michael Hussey has looked in decent nick as well. READ: MS Dhoni fined for inappropriate public comment

Hussey and Dwayne Smith will open for CSK, and will be followed by the in-form Faf du Plessis. Suresh Raina has not played that one defining innings yet, but given his record in playoffs, RCB will be wary of what he can do. The way CSK floundered in their last match was a bit worrisome, and MS Dhoni will want his top order to play through this time around. READ: Mitchell McClenaghan’s inclusion had massive impact

For RCB, it was once again the AB de Villiers show. At least one of their top three, also comprising Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli, has fired more often than not, and that trend continued in the eliminator. RCB were also well served by the talented Mandeep Singh, who looks better with each passing game. READ: AB de Villiers gifts his ‘Man of the match’ award to Mandeep Singh

This match will also be a battle of the left-arm seamers. Ashish Nehra has been good for CSK, and bowled quite well in the latter stages against MI. Mitchell Starc has lost a bit of sheen over the last couple of games, but remains a more than potent threat. Starc has excellent support in the form of Sreenath Aravind, Harshal Patel, and David Wiese; but CSK have their trump card in the form of Dwayne Bravo, whose bowling remains difficult to get away. He still holds the Purple Cap, and looks like he might well retain it.

It is in the spin department that CSK trumps RCB. Ravichandran Ashwin has been excellent in IPL 2015, and has been well backed up by Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi. On the other hand, Yuzvendra Chahal has played a lone hand for RCB.

On the whole, the match is too close to call. CSK have far more experience in these situations, but that did not stop Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) from edging past them in the second Qualifier of IPL 2014. RCB could take inspiration from that and look to reach the final once again. RCB have never won IPL; this could be their chance to rectify that.

Squads:

Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (c&wk), Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Ishwar Pandey, Mohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Ankush Bains, Baba Parajith, Rahul Sharma, Mithun Manhas, Pawan Negi, Kyle Abbott, Andrew Tye, Ronit More, Pratyush Singh, Samuel Badree, Eklavya Dwivedi, Matt Henry.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Mandeep Singh, Manvinder Bisla, Rilee Rossouw, Sarfaraz Khan, Iqbal Abdulla, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mitchell Starc, Harshal Patel, Varun Aaron, Subramaniam Badrinath, Sean Abbott, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Darren Sammy, Vijay Zol, Jalaj Saxena, David Wiese, Sandeep Warrier, Nic Maddinson, Sreenath Aravind, Shishir Bhavane, Ashok Dinda, Abu Nechim Ahmed.

Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek who loves cricket more than cricketers. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)