Preview: Form teams chase top spot

Royal Challengers Bangalore will be boosted by the return of Daniel Vettori AFP

By Jamie Alter

Bengaluru: May 21, 2011

It s not quite the battle for Southern Comfort, because Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings have both progressed to the knock-offs. What victory will do, however, is ensure a top-two finish and automatic qualification for the Champions League Twenty20 later this year.

RCB are boosted by the return of regular captain Daniel Vettori, whose recurrent knee injury had flared up during the season and forced him home to New Zealand for consultation last week. Vettori hasn t been in the wickets majorly, but he was been RCB s most economical and consistent bowler. In his absence, Virat Kohli captained RCB to two easy wins before overseeing a whopping 111-run loss to Kings XI Punjab in Dharamsala.

Back on the other side of the Vindhyas, though, RCB will be a recharged unit. Their fans in Bangalore act as a 12th man and this is venue at which Chris Gayle has been electric. The other good news is that Zaheer Khan is apparently back to fitness and should slot back in alongside Vettori.

CSK are coming off another win at home, and will have travelled across the border in anticipation of locking one of the top two slots. A win over RCB will enhance their net run rate even further, but if CSK lose and Mumbai Indians are beaten by Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday there is a chance MS Dhoni will have to be content with third place.

Teams:

RCB (Probable): Chris Gayle, Luke Pomersbach, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Saurabh Tiwary, Asad Pathan, Mohammad Kaif, Daniel Vettori (c), Zaheer Khan, Sreenath Aravind, Abhimanyu Mithun.

CSK (Probable): Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, Subramanian Badrinath, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Wriddhiman Saha, Albie Morkel, Dwayne Bravo, Shadab Jakati, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger.

Time: 16.00 local (10.30 GMT)

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. He is the author of two books, The History of World Cup Cricket and Field of Dreams: The Story of the Dr. DY Patil Sports Stadium. His twitter feed is @jamie_alter)