Royal Challengers Bangalore could probably afford one more loss. But only if they get very lucky with other results going their way.
They came away from the IPL auction like a tourist with a detailed itinerary: allrounders, check; big-hitters, check; KKR's bowling attack that knocked them over for 49, double check. But one month in, all they have is a bag full of knock-off merchandise. Five defeats in eight matches with a squad that Virat Kohli thought was the most balanced is, essentially, like being stuck with t-shirts that say Wrong instead of Wrogn, right?
But some innocent bystanders have given them a helpful tip, at least with respect to their next adventure. It is hard to compete with Chennai Super Kings' batting line-up. So make fools of their bowlers.
Target scores well above par if batting first. Forget about the run-rate and safeguard wickets for the death if chasing. Basically, RCB have to figure out a way to beat a monstrous batting team with virtually the tournament on the line.
It seems karma wants them to learn how everyone that faces RCB feels.
In the news
AB de Villiers has been declared fit after viral fever ruled him out of RCB's previous two games. Quinton de Kock, however, has flown back to South Africa for a wedding.
A high-scoring affair when RCB posted 205 and CSK chased it down in a blaze of sixes in Bengaluru. De Villiers made a rip-roaring 68.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Imran Tahir, 10 Lungi Ngidi, 11 KM Asif
De Kock's absence may see Parthiv Patel getting his first game of the season.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Manan Vohra/Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Brendon McCullum 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Mandeep Singh, 6 Colin de Grandhomme, 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Imran Tahir has taken 15 wickets in Pune, the most among anyone in the CSK squad, and he has taken out AB de Villiers two times in three IPL innings. This head-to-head can be quite compelling for the viewer as well because the batsman also strikes at 185.7 against the legspinner.
Stats that matter
RCB have four wins in five games in Pune, and de Villiers was Man of the Match in three of those games. He has made 211 runs at a strike-rate of 177. Viral fever, begone.
CSK have rarely had a phenomenal bowling line-up. But they mask that problem with their spinners and Dhoni's ability to use them. In each of their eight years, their economy rate had always hovered around 7 and strike rate around 25. In 2018, those numbers have risen to 8.49 and 34.50.
Before Tim Southee was brought in to the XI, RCB were conceding a six every six deliveries in the death. Now, that figure is a far more respectable 18.3.
Dhoni has scored 329 runs at a strike-rate of 169.6. That's his best tally after nine matches in any season of IPL.
Ambati Rayudu. He's the highest scorer of the IPL this season with six scores of 30-plus in nine innings. He's also been hitting at a strike-rate of 153 with 56 hits to and over the boundary.
"The last four days have been a blur I have been suffering from severe viral flu, one of the most debilitating illnesses I have ever experienced. Aside from one visit to the hospital, I have barely left my hotel room. Sleep has been almost impossible, and the migraine headaches have been extreme."
AB de Villiers wrote in a column for Times of India