Friday, May 22, 2015
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Only once has a side won both the eliminator and the second qualifier games in the IPL. Chennai Super Kings did that in 2012, but went down to Kolkata Knight Riders in the final. Royal Challengers Bangalore will want to become the second side to do so, but find Super Kings in their way.
Royal Challengers put in a complete performance in the eliminator to beat Rajasthan Royals by 71 runs. Led by AB de Villiers and Mandeep Singh, they took 86 off the last six overs. Super Kings will likely not be so accommodating at the death. MS Dhoni's men have comfortably beaten Royal Challengers in both league games this season, in Bangalore and in Chennai.
In both those games, Super Kings batted first. It will be an interesting decision for Virat Kohli to make if he wins the toss. Four out of six IPL games in Ranchi have been won by the chasing side, and the victory margin in the fifth was only seven runs. Royal Challengers prefer to chase, especially in batting-friendly conditions at home, but this is a larger outfield and not as high-scoring a venue as Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Super Kings have played a lot more in Ranchi than Royal Challengers have - seven games against two - and will be more familiar with the conditions. What will have bothered them is how their chase unraveled against Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier.
They were 86 for 2 at the halfway stage when Harbhajan Singh dismissed Suresh Raina and Dhoni off successive deliveries, blows from which Super Kings never recovered. Mumbai Indians were 86 for 0 at the halfway stage, and Kieron Pollard catapulted them to 187 for 6. Super Kings have struck consistently with the new ball this season, something they could not do in the first qualifier, and will want to in the second.
Chennai Super Kings LWLWL (last five matches, most recent first)
Royal Challengers Bangalore WWLWW
Super Kings lead Royal Challengers 11-7 in the head-to-head. Raina made 62 off 32 to lead Super Kings to 181 for 8 in Bangalore. Ashish Nehra's 4 for 10 kept Royal Challengers to 154 for 8. Raina's 52 off 46 took Super Kings to 148 for 9 in Chennai. Nehra claimed 3 for 19 as Royal Challengers were dismissed for 124.
In the spotlight
Suresh Raina is having his poorest IPL season, in terms of runs as well as strike-rate. His lowest season run-tally prior to this one was 421 in 2008, and his lowest season strike-rate was 135 in 2011. This time he has made 346 runs at 122. However, both his fifties have come against Royal Challengers.
These are the two most productive attacks this season. Super Kings have taken 93 wickets at an economy-rate of 7.56 and a strike-rate of 18.9. Royal Challengers have 86 at 8.38 and 16.6. With so many power-hitters in both line-ups, it will come down to which set of bowlers holds up better under pressure.
Barring last-minute surprises, both sides should go in with the same XIs.
Chennai Super Kings (probable) 1 Dwayne Smith, 2 Michael Hussey, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Faf du Plessis, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Pawan Negi, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Ashish Nehra, 11 Mohit Sharma
Royal Challengers Bangalore (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Virat Kohli (capt), 3 AB de Villiers, 4 Mandeep Singh, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Sarfaraz Khan, 7 David Wiese, 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 S Aravind
Pitch and conditions
The pitch appeared pretty dry on the eve of the game. The average first-innings score in IPL games in Ranchi is 150, suggesting a surface more to Super Kings' liking than Royal Challengers'. The city is expected to sizzle at a maximum of 41 degrees but conditions will not be so extreme in the night. No rain is forecast. Royal Challengers beat Super Kings by five wickets in the only game between the two sides in Ranchi, in 2014
Virat Kohli has scored the most runs in IPL games between the two teams - 694 with six half-centuries at an average of 46.26 and a strike-rate of 126.87
Dinesh Karthik has 17 dismissals in IPL 2015. The season record is 19 by Kumar Sangakkara in 2011
"The guys are getting pretty tired at this stage of the tournament. To get rid of a game and a bit of travel would have been good. But we are not afforded that luxury. We have to dig pretty deep. Happy that we have another opportunity... in Ranchi which has been good to us."
Chennai Super Kings coach Stephen Fleming on having to play the second qualifier
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo