Virat Kohli checks MS Dhoni’s thumb. (Photo Source: Twitter)
It is the clash of titans. A battle so intriguing and monumental anyway, let alone when the two teams are in the kind of form they are in. The very idea of MS Dhoni vs Virat Kohli is enough to leave a fan drooling, to cast a spell on every onlooker. This is the contest that fills column spaces; sends television rating charts to soaring highs; creates a buzz of mobile notifications, and leaves hearts panting.
Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore seems to be a team on a mission. They are at the top of the table, a position that has not been a great friend over the years. More notably, with the column of losses still reading zero. Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings have rewound the clocks to the good ol’ days, and are steadily standing in the way of stopping RCB’s winning run.
After two weeks in the tournament, no team has managed to hand the Challengers a defeat but the only capable contenders of that are whom they are up against. Despite their four wins on the trot to CSK’s three, it is hard to pick a favorite in this top-table clash. There is no favorite. Historically, though, CSK has had the wood over their Sunday rivals, winning 16 of the 26 meetings, while only losing nine. But a larger part of those losses for RCB have come in Chennai, a venue they left with three wins in three games this year.
And on a batting paradise like Mumbai, what can this contest produce is anybody’s guess. AB de Villiers has been in sensational form and maneuvered the slow Chepauk track enviously. Glenn Maxwell has broken his rut and has gotten more runs in three outings than he did in 13 in 2020. Contributions from Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli were due. They came at once and showed what happens to the opponents if they arrive together. And Harshal Patel’s death-bowling prowess cannot skip a mention.
RCB decimated Rajasthan Royals to record a 10-wicket win in their last encounter, with the mastery of two batsmen so sublime, that chasing 178 looked like a stroll in the park. Padikkal, in fact, seemed to be making up for all the lost time and not being able to fire in the previous two games as he notched up a stroke-filled century off merely 52 balls. Despite a performance as clinical, Virat Kohli chose not to be “over-excited”, taking it “one step at a time”, and admitting that “momentum can go away just as quickly”.
For the Super Kings, the return of Suresh Raina has been the best of boosts they could have asked for the season. They bat even deeper than the deepest, and Moeen Ali has taken the onus to break their middle-phase lethargy; while Faf du Plessis’ unbeaten 95 against Kolkata Knight Riders was an exhibition of class meeting brutality.
The only worry was the form of Ruturaj Gaikwad, whose belligerent 64 after three forgettable outings showed that the management’s decision to back him was pinpoint right. Deepak Chahar and Sam Curran have been making the new ball talk. All that CSK now needs is a Dhoni dash, which was on display for a brief while against KKR. If that could extend a little longer, CSK will have time turned back truly.
Pitch and conditions
As if there is anything less exciting about this battle, it is at the Wankhede Stadium to make it the deadliest of combinations. The confidence of both the side is touching roofs, with RCB registering a 10-wicket win, while CSK winning a nerve-jangling, high-scoring thriller by 18 runs against KKR. Those two contests have produced 780/22 in 75.4 overs combined. Wankhede means runs. What else do you want to know?
Playing combinations for CSK vs RCB
Chennai Super Kings
CSK is known to stick with the same side. Having won the last game, there is no good reason for them to make amends in a winning combination.
Predicted XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C and WK), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
Royal Challengers Bangalore
So ruthlessly dominating was RCB’s performance in the previous encounter that they needed no more than their openers to seal the win. That means both Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers are yet to step out on Wankhede. They are most likely to go unchanged, but Mohammad Azharuddeen might get a look-in to bolster an already daunting batting order.
Predicted XI: Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli, Mohammad Azharuddeen/Shahbaz Ahmed, AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Washington Sundar, Kyle Jamieson, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammad Siraj
CSK vs RCB Head to Head
Played – 26 | Chennai Super Kings – 16 | Royal Challengers Bangalore – 9
CSK vs RCB Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 3:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
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