Bangalore v Chennai, CLT2010, 1st semi-final, Durban September 23, 2010

South Indian battle in South Africa

Match facts

Friday, September 24
Start time 1730 (1530 GMT)

Big Picture

The Champions League Twenty20 may not have the massive following that its more glamorous sibling, the IPL, has but it is clear the players consider it an important tournament. Several incidents highlighted how desperate they are to win it: the dejection on Virat Kohli's face as he sat on his haunches mid-pitch in Durban after a revelatory innings which nearly pulled off a heist against Mumbai Indians; and the ever-smiling Muttiah Muralitharan's broadside at S Badrinath for a less-than-perfect piece of fielding when Warriors were threatening to dump Chennai Super Kings out of the competition.

Perhaps the people happiest with the results over the two days will be the organisers, with two of the IPL teams making it through to the semi-finals and one of them guaranteed a place in the final, ensuring a higher number of eye-balls than if non-Indian teams had qualified.

Chennai have the bragging rights after winning this year's IPL, but Royal Challengers Bangalore can have something to boast about if they upstage MS Dhoni's men on Friday. The two sides have already met in the semi-final of a tournament in South Africa - in the 2009 IPL, when Bangalore eased to a six-wicket victory.

Both have had stop-start league phases, but they will take heart from the fact that their best seasons in the IPL also came after campaigns that started off poorly. Both possess formidable batting line-ups, and their main difference lies in the nature of their bowling attack - Chennai have plenty of spinners, while Bangalore rely heavily on quick bowlers.

The two sides also missed key South African allrounders in their final league matches - Jacques Kallis is out of the tournament with a neck injury, while Albie Morkel has been out for two matches due to an illness. Kallis' absence has upset Bangalore's balance, and Chennai will have even more of an advantage if Morkel recovers from his illness in time.

The overall head-to-head record - Bangalore winning four to Chennai's three - shows how competitive the rivalry between the two sides has been. Friday's semi-final promises to live up to that.

Team news

Chennai packed their bowling with spinners for their match against Warriors in Port Elizabeth, but that strategy might not work in Durban where the track has been less helpful for the slow bowlers. That means they might consider picking one of either L Balaji or Joginder Sharma in place of Shadab Jakati.

Chennai Super Kings (probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Michael Hussey, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 6 S Anirudha, 7 Albie Morkel / Justin Kemp, 8 Doug Bollinger, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 L Balaji/ Joginder Sharma.

Bangalore are unlikely to make too many changes to their line-up that beat Lions on Tuesday. That they have only one recognised spinner in Anil Kumble is a drawback. They do have Cameron White in the line-up, who once played as a specialist Test legspinner, but he has bowled only one over in Twenty20s in his previous 37 matches.

Royal Challengers Bangalore: (probable) 1 Manish Pandey, 2 Rahul Dravid, 3 Robin Uthappa (wk), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Cameron White, 6 Virat Kohli, 7 Dillon du Preez, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Dale Steyn, 10 Anil Kumble (capt), 11 R Vinay Kumar

Watch out for ...

Ross Taylor was a part of three teams which qualified for the Champions League, but he hasn't yet shown the form that has made him such a coveted Twenty20 player. The semi-final presents a chance for the world's leading six-hitter in Twenty20s to make the impact expected of him.

Another big-name player who has had a quiet tournament so far is Dhoni. A late onslaught against Warriors showed glimpses of what he is capable of, but Chennai will be hoping for more from their captain on Friday.

Key contests

Murali v Bangalore middle-order The constricting spin of Murali, bowling from around the stumps and choking the batsman for room, has been effective all tournament. Bangalore, though, possess a bunch of lethal hitters in the middle-order who could prove hard to contain.

Kumars v Chennai openers M Vijay and Michael Hussey have provided Chennai with solid starts in both the matches they have opened together, giving the likes of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni the license to go for the big hits. Vinay Kumar and Praveen Kumar could face a stern test.


"Your plans have to be very fluid in this format."
Anil Kumble on the key to strategising in Twenty20.

"The spinners have done the job for us so far. Hopefully, on the Durban pitch, the fast bowlers will do well for the team."
MS Dhoni

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo