Royal Challengers Bangalore are beginning to get their act together and they will face another stiff test in their IPL 2019 playoff hunt when they host Chennai Super Kings on Sunday.
RCB survived a mighty scare in their last game against KKR after Andre Russell and Nitish Rana almost pulled off a monumental run chase in pursuit of 214. In a way, Bangalore needed that break as it was just their second win of a bruising season.
Chennai will be an even more challenging opposition as they do not rely on just one or two players. Bangalore wouldn’t want to recall the previous clash between the sides – the opening match of IPL 2019 – where spinners ran amok on a slow Chennai pitch to derail RCB’s innings for just 70. While a crumbling pitch was to be blamed for Bangalore’s performance, it was a sign of things to come with Virat Kohli’s side stumbling from one disappointment to the other.
All up to Kohli
Bangalore captain Kohli has been feeling the heat for some time. Questions were raised about his tactics after failing to win a single title yet still being retained as the captain. But when the pressure has been at the highest, Kohli has come up with the goods. Scores of 67 against KXIP and 100 against KKR secured the only two wins of the season for Bangalore.
If AB de Villiers doesn’t recover in time, it will be all down to Kohli and a resurgent Moeen Ali to provide the impetus with the bat.
While the Super Kings are on top of their game and the points table, the manner of defeat in their previous game against Sunrisers Hyderabad will be of some concern.
On a typically sluggish Hyderabad pitch – which suits Chennai’s play – CSK first struggled to a nothing score of 132-5 and then saw David Warner and Jonny Bairstow hit fifties in a facile chase.
They genuinely missed MS Dhoni in that game after the veteran decided to rest. He should come back into the team and provide some much needed guidance and lower order hitting. If Dhoni continues to remain out for what is thought to be an ongoing back issue, Chennai’s woes might continue.
RCB: Parthiv Patel (wk), Virat Kohli (c), AB De Villiers/Henrich Klaasen, Akshdeep Nath, Moeen Ali, Marcus Stoinis, Pawan Negi, Dale Steyn, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini
CSK: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni/Sam Billings (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar
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