CSK target final-overs bite, RCB early boosts
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
"Ideal" was how a beaming Virat Kohli described Royal Challengers Bangalore's start. But since beating Kolkata Knight Riders at their (E)den, his post-match quotes have been considerably subdued. He wouldn't bother masking the weakness of the bowling attack, and was equally unflattering last Sunday after his batsmen made a dysfunctional start - 24 for 0 in the six Powerplay overs - in a chase of 210. Now they have to contend with Chennai Super Kings.
Only there are cracks in MS Dhoni's team as well, starting with his own form. His struggle for timing is explained by a strike-rate of 118 and it has impacted their charge in the final overs. Ravindra Jadeja has 17 runs in the tournament so far, and hasn't batted in the last two innings. Dwayne Bravo hit 62 of his 76 runs in one match. It almost seems like Super Kings have done a 180 on their strategy - from being a line-up that did most of its damage in the final overs, they now rely on the openers Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith to do so.
And that is why Mitchell Starc will be priceless for Royal Challengers. He is likely to start his IPL season tomorrow and gives the attack much needed venom, and perhaps more importantly he can lead it. A potential one-stop fix for a problem that has begun to weigh on them. They look a team in dire need of a boost, and downing arguably the most successful T20 team would be the perfect tonic before going on the road again.
Watch out for…
Nine overs, 95 runs and one wicket. A duck and a 17 in the only times he's been able to bat. This IPL season has been taxing on Ravindra Jadeja. As quick as his darts are, batsmen have managed to get under them and use the additional pace. He's also been hidden whenever left-handers are at the crease. But he doesn't look like the kind of player who pays much mind to statistics. Rather like the kind who functions on confidence, and he rarely lacks that.
In the other camp is another spinner who likes tossing the ball up. Yuzvendra Chahal is young, eager to impress and has been Royal Challengers' most dependable bowler so far. The team's trust in him has been growing and he often looks for Kohli for the first high-five after his wickets, as if thanking his captain for the faith. Royal Challengers would hope those little interludes grow more frequent.
Stats and trivia
- Super Kings have won eight of their last 12 games against Royal Challengers. They had lost four out of six before that
- Two batsmen have scored more than 500 runs in Super Kings-Royal Challengers encounters - Suresh Raina (500) and Virat Kohli (609)
- Super Kings' batsmen have the best average (37.05) in the 2015 IPL while Royal Challengers' batsmen are on the other end of that table (22.33)
"It is still T20 cricket, so my plans aren't going to change. The way I bowl is regardless of where we are"
Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Michell Starc is content with his stock of tricks
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo