CSK want slide to end, RCB want season to end
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
When the two teams met the previous weekend, Chennai Super Kings seemed a well-oiled machine, dropping only two matches against the red-hot Kings XI Punjab in their first ten of the season to be gliding towards a top-two spot. Now, like a distance runner who began sprinting too early in the race, Super Kings are flagging as the finish line nears and three losses in a row have allowed Kolkata Knight Riders to catch up.
That top-two spot is no more a foregone conclusion, and the bowling hasn't been top notch in recent times, but it's not all gloom. They are still guaranteed a playoff place, their mighty batting still scares most oppositions, and their final game is against the already eliminated Royal Challengers Bangalore.
For the third season in a row, Royal Challengers have come up short, failing to make the playoffs. "I am sad and apologise to all amazing RCB fans for the teams poor performance in this IPL. It is heartbreaking that the star line-up failed," their owner Vijay Mallya tweeted. Perhaps the one thing of interest for Royal Challengers fans is that the team will switch from its regular red-and-yellow outfit to a green jersey for this game as part of the franchise's 'Go green' drive.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: LLWWL (completed games, most recent first)
Chennai Super Kings: LLLWW
Where they stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Seventh, with 10 points after 13 matches
Chennai Super Kings: Second, with 16 points after 13 matches
In a low-scoring encounter on a ragged spinning track in Ranchi, an AB de Villiers cameo tilted the match Royal Challengers' way when the two teams met last weekend.
Watch out for
One of the troublesome spots for Super Kings has been the quick-bowling partner for Mohit Sharma. The regular has been Ishwar Pandey, who has been tidy but has only five wickets in 11 matches. The other fast bowler they have turned to often is Australia's Ben Hilfenhaus, who has been expensive in his eight games. John Hastings was unimpressive in his first outing on Thursday, while Ashish Nehra also has had only one game. The other options they have are New Zealand's Matt Henry and Karnataka's Ronit More.
Royal Challengers could experiment with their XI in a game of little consequence. There have a fairly small squad (21 players), but they still haven't given a game to some of their lower-profile players. If the likes of Shadab Jakati and Sandeep Warrier aren't given a go in this match, then when?
Stats and trivia
- Mitchell Starc needs two more scalps to reach 100 Twenty20 wickets. If he gets there on Saturday, he will be the joint-second quickest to get there, in 66 innings, only behind Krishmar Santokie who needed only 54.
- Only two batsmen have more not-out innings than Dhoni's 60 (out of 164) in T20 cricket - Kieron Pollard (61 in 205) and Albie Morkel (76 in 214)
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo