IPL 2013 Preview: Chennai Super Kings host buoyant Royal Challengers Bangalore

Virat Kohli (left) may want to shrug off his on-field spat with Gautam Gambhir (not in pic) in the game against KKR, if he wishes to lead his side to victory against Chennai Super Kings © AFP

By Prakash Govindasreenivasan
 
Chennai: Apr 12, 2013

 
Virat Kohli will marshal his troops to Chennai as the Chennai Super Kings host the charged-up Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 16th match of the Indian Premier League 2013 on Saturday.
 
The Royal Challengers Bangalore have had a rollicking start to their season with three wins from four matches, with two of them coming against heavyweights Mumbai Indians and defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders.
 
The return of AB de Villiers has bolstered their squad and they will be raring to overcome the challenge of beating CSK in front of their home crowd.
 
RCB opener Chris Gayle has not shed even an ounce of his brutality with the bat since last season and already has two scores in excess of 50 (92 and 85). While the focus of any match involving the Bangalore side is on the big West Indian, one cannot discount their skipper Virat Kohli who is, at the time of writing, the top-scorer of the tournament with 198 runs from four matches. His swashbuckling knock (93 off 47 deliveries) against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bangalore was one of the best the tournament has seen since its inception in 2008. He may want to shrug off his on-field spat with Gautam Gambhir in the game against KKR, if he wishes to lead his side to victory against MS Dhoni & Co.
 
With these two in top-form, the inclusion of De Villiers in the middle-order makes the Bangalore side one of the most feared ones in the league. Apart from these three, new recruit Moises Henriques has also been a revelation, chipping in with crucial contribution with bat and ball.
 
When RCB go up against Dhoni’s CSK, they will be fully aware of the reduced margin of uncertainty. The Chennai side have been the most consistent in the history of the tournament and continue to be the favourites in every tie irrespective of form. Among the bowlers, RCB will dearly miss the services of Muttiah Muralitharan, who will not feature on Saturday due to the anti-Sri Lanka protests in Chennai and the subsequent orders of the IPL Governing Council to not allow Sri Lankan cricketers to play in Chennai. Kohli could opt for the Kiwi left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori as Muralitharan’s replacement.
 
The home side led by Dhoni will be upbeat after thrashing the Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets and will be eager to stop the Royal Challengers from extending their lead at the top of the table. That, however, is easier said than done.
 
After a narrow defeat to the Mumbai Indians at home, CSK showed their true potential against the Kings XI Punjab. Dhoni’s form with the bat is still intact from his double century against Australia, also in Chennai, even as a yellow jersey replaced his white flannels. In Michael Hussey and Dwayne Bravo, Dhoni has found two extremely resourceful foreign players in his line-up. The retired Australian is yet to show signs of losing touch with the game while the West Indian continues to enjoy success — with bat and ball — in this tournament.
 
CSK also handed Chris Morris — the unknown entity snapped up by them in the recently held auctions — his debut against the Kings XI. The lad, who was ecstatic to play in front of such huge crowd, did not fail to impress. With figures of two for 27, he has probably earned himself a spot in the side for another couple of matches at least. In Dirk Nannes, another recent recruit, the Chennai Super Kings have found a like-for-like replacement for Doug Bollinger, who spearheaded the Chennai bowling attack in the last two seasons.
 
Among the Indian bowlers, India’s leading spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is supported well by all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja. It will be interesting to see if Ankit Rajpoot keeps his spot or makes way for Shadab Jakati for the all-important clash.
 
These are two of the teams that have the potential and the fire-power to go all the way in the tournament. Yet, given the home conditions, Chennai might end up on top in this fixture, but only just.
 
Teams:
 
Chennai Super Kings (Probable): Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina ,Subramanium Badrinath, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Ravichandran Ashwin, Dirk Nannes, Chris Morris, Ankit Rajpoot.
 
Royal Challengers Bangalore (Probable): Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli (c) , AB de Villiers, Moises Henriques, Arun Karthik (wk), Lokesh Rahul, Daniel Vettori, Vinay Kumar, RP Singh, Jaydev Unadkat.
 
Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT  
 
(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is an Editorial consultant at CricketCountry and a sports fanatic, with a soft corner for cricket. After studying journalism for two years, came the first big high in his professional life – the opportunity to interview his hero Adam Gilchrist and talking about his magnificent 149 in the 2007 World Cup final. While not following cricket, he is busy rooting for Chelsea FC)