rcb-csk-ipl-matchTwo southern heavyweights clash in the final eliminator in the playoffs of Indian Premier League. Chennai Super Kings (CSK) locks horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Ranchi tonight. The winner will fly to Kolkata to meet Mumbai Indians in the IPL final, while the loser will go home.

Background

Ranchi is the hometown of MS Dhoni, CSK’s skipper. You can expect a home-like support for the Chennai outfit in the ground. Still, it must be noted that the only time these two teams met in this ground, RCB emerged victorious.

What offers hope for Dhoni’s men is their recent supremacy over Royal Challengers. CSK has won both the matches against RCB in the league phase. Both were comfortable wins. However, Chris Gayle did not take part in any of those matches. He will be playing in this match.

The match will also witness a kind of online war between the supporters of these franchisees. Regional politics and social issues like river-water sharing have spoiled the relationships between the peoples of Chennai and Bangalore. The strained relations add an extra spark in the inter-city contests like this.

Preview – CSK

Chennai Super Kings no longer possesses their famed never-say-die attitude – especially when batting. They have been losing matches from winning positions. They are not posting huge totals as frequently as they were once doing. The departure of Brendon McCullum has further weakened the side. Dwayne Smith is going through a poor run. And Michael Hussey is short of playing time. Faf du Plessis almost always gets starts. But he often perishes when trying to up the ante.

MS Dhoni too seems to be surviving more by his reputation than playing form. His batting technique has always been patchy. Now it looks even comical. Suresh Raina will be the make or break man in that batting order. CSK’s batting depends heavily on his scoring prowess.

The bowling looks reasonably well. Ashwin and Bravo are dependable bowlers. If Ashish Nehra can retain his line and length, he can be a handful too. Against RCB’s big hitters, the Chennai bowlers have to be at their best.

Preview – RCB

Bangalore is known as the digital capital of India – for the number of IT companies it hosts. The Bangalore team’s performance too reflects a kind of binary pattern. When their big stars shine, they are invincible. When they fail, the team tends to struggle. In other words, it is either 1 or 0.

Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers need no introduction. The whole cricket world knows what they are capable of. Still, if the team is chasing, it would be Kohli who will have to take control of the proceedings. Mitchell Starc has gone off the boil since his sensational arrival midway through the tournament. The good thing for the Bangalore outfit is that their Indian bowlers have improved a lot in recent matches.

Prediction

The momentum is with RCB; still they do have a tendency to freeze in important matches. And CSK is quite good when it comes to exploiting such flaws. In Ranchi, chasing teams have won four out of five matches. Still, it would not be a surprise if the team that wins toss chooses to bat first – and goes on to win the match.

Coverage on Pakistan Times: IPL T20IPL Schedule | IPL Points Table