Mumbai: It would be nothing short of a clash of the titans when Virat Kohli’s on-a-roll Royal Challengers Bangalore takes on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings in a top-of-the-table IPL showdown here on Sunday with two points and momentum at stake.
RCB has won all its four matches so far and sits on top of the standings. CSK, on the other hand, has hit back after losing its opener to claim three straight wins for the second spot in the points table.
RCB, boosted by a 10-wicket hammering of Rajasthan Royals, will be keen to continue its winning streak. However, the task is easier said than done as CSK is riding high with three good results of its own.
Kohli and the highly-rated Devdutt Padikkal toyed with the Rajasthan Royals bowling the other day and will look to lay a strong foundation again for RCB against a varied CSK bowling attack.
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RCB, which has more often not under-performed amid high expectations, has started well. And, Kohli will be aware of the importance of maintaining the intensity in a long league.
The RCB batting appears to be top heavy and reliant on the performances of Kohli, South African maestro AB de Villiers and Australian maverick Glenn Maxwell. Padikkal’s good form also augurs well for the team.
However, the RCB batting unit will front up to Deepak Chahar, who is known for his ability to strike early.
It remains to be seen if the team has what it takes to bounce back in case there is lose of wickets early in the innings.
The RCB bowling has done the job so far with Mohammed Siraj being impressive. However, they come up against a formidable CSK which bats deep and the importance of early wickets can’t be emphasised enough.
Ruturaj Gaikwad emerged from three failures with an impressive knock against Kolkata Knight Riders and forms a strong opening partnership with Faf du Plessis.
A good start will help their cause and with an in-form Moeen Ali pencilled in at No.3 and Suresh Raina to follow, CSK has the firepower to strike late as well.
Skipper Dhoni is yet to hit his straps but coach Stephen Fleming believes he would get better with every outing.
While Chahar has been in the thick of things at the start, spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali have also struck crucial blows.
Shardul Thakur has proved expensive at times but is a vital cog in the CSK bowling unit.
Add to this the fact that the Wankhede stadium has seen mostly high-scoring games and the team that holds its nerves is likely to come up trumps on a track like this.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c & wk), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Sam Curran, R Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujra, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, C Hari Nishaanth.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (C), AB de Villiers (W), Adam Zampa, Devdutt Padikkal, Kane Richardson, Mohammed Siraj, Navdeep Saini, Pavan Deshpande, Shahbaz Ahmed, M S Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Daniel Sams, Harshal Patel, Glenn Maxwell, Sachin Baby, Rajat Patidar, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Kyle Jamieson, Dan Christian, Suyash Prabhudessai, K S Bharat, Finn Allen.
Match starts at 3.30 PM.