Bottom-dwellers RCB face daunting challenge against CSK
It's Dhoni vs Kohli as RCB host CSK on Sunday. (AFP Image)

The game that began it all. In the first match of the IPL 2019, two of India’s biggest superstars stood face to face as MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings hosted Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

A match that was expected to set the tone for the remainder of the IPL turned out to be a pretty one-sided contest as CSK chased down RCB’s low total of 70. Ever since, one team has completely smashed oppositions to sit atop the points table, while the other is languishing at the bottom of the pile, its Playoffs hopes hanging by a thread.

It is only now that CSK’s position at the top is under a bit of threat with Mumbai Indians peaking in, but Dhoni wouldn’t need to worry much. With seven wins, CSK already are strong contenders to enter the Playoffs having lost just two games. A win here will not only get CSK a step closer to the final four but also signal curtains for RCB this season.

However, in a surprising change in fortunes, both teams approach this game with contrasting results behind them. CSK were comfortably beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad while RCB, led by Kohli’s century, beat Kolkata Knight Riders in their own den. So while CSK obviously start as favourites, RCB may just spring a surprise over the table-toppers. With teams jostling for Playoff berths, time is running out for RCB.

What: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings

When: Sunday (April 21)

Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

Time: 8:00PM (IST)

Weather: Partly hazy with a high of 29 degree

Team News

Chennai Super Kings

After a deserved break, Dhoni’s return to the side in imminent. Rested from the previous game, Dhoni’s absence, during batting and bowling, was felt and he is likely to return and take over the reins from Suresh Raina. Karn Sharma was expensive in his 2.5 overs even though he picked up a wicket, and with already a legspinner in Imran Tahir, CSK might bring back offspinner Harbhajan, who picked up three wickets the last time the two sides met.

Probable XI: 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 Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir

Royal Challengers Bangalore

AB de Villiers is likely to return in place of Heinrich Klassen after missing the previous game due to a mild concussion. Mohammed Siraj has been RCB’s most un-improved bowler from the past few games. For someone with seven wickets from nine games, his economy rate touching 10 is a glaring concern. It’s about time RCB swap him, possibly with Washington Sundar provided he is fit.

Probable XI: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Moeen Ali, 5 Marcus Stoinis, 6 Akshdeep Nath, 7 Pawan Negi, 8 Dale Steyn, 9 Washington Sundar, 10 Navdeep Saini, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Head-to-Head

Of the 24 games played between the two sides, CSK are miles ahead with 16 wins, while RCB have managed to win just seven with one match ending up being a no-result.