Daijiworld Media Network
Ranchi, May 18 : Hello, hello friends. It's a double-header following a 2-day break. With 16 points in the kitty and a play-off berth all but sealed, Chennai will be keen to keep the momentum going as the tournament swirls towards its climax. On the contrary, Bangalore are lying low at 6th place. They are alive in the race for the play-offs but only barely, facing the onerous task of winning the remainder of their games while keeping an eye on other permutations as well. Have their pacers learnt from their profligacy? Will Gayle and Kohli finally fire?
It's the Southern Derby at Ranchi. You wouldn't want to miss it. Toss, teams and a whole lot more coming at you in a brief while.
David Hussey has joined the Chennai setup and with Baz flying back to New Zealand on May 21 for the expected birth of his child, the younger Hussey has a bright chance of making his debut for Chennai in their next fixture.
A few questions to ponder over for Bangalore. Murali and Chahal though will hold the key for them on this track, which will aid spin.
Chennai have won the toss and have opted to bat
Kohli: 'We've tried to stay as relaxed as possible. We just need to take one game at a time and see what we can do. The bowlers have been doing well apart from two games. The way Yuvi has comeback is just amazing to see. We would have looked to bat first as well, we saw the other day that the wicket was very slow and low. Varun Aaron comes in for Vijay Zol.'
Dhoni: 'Brendon might go back home in a few days time for the birth of his child but he will be back for the last few games. We are looking to bat first. It's an afternoon game, the wicket looks a good one. Faf is not playing, he is carrying a bit of a niggle so David Hussey is replacing him. Vijay Shankar also misses out and Mithun Manhas comes in.'
Chennai (Playing XI): Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith, Suresh Raina, David Hussey, MS Dhoni(w/c), Mithun Manhas, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Samuel Badree, Mohit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey
Bangalore (Playing XI): Chris Gayle, Parthiv Patel(w), Virat Kohli(c), AB de Villiers, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Rana, Mitchell Starc, Muttiah Muralitharan, Varun Aaron, Yuzvendra Chahal, Abu Nechim
Match Preview :
Bangalore and Chennai have fought many a keen battle between them, both in Bangalore as well as in Chennai. This time around, the two teams will play each other in Ranchi, the makeshift home for Chennai this season. It is the business end of the tournament, and while the two-time champions are all but through to the knock-outs, Bangalore are just about in with a chance to make it to the next stage of the tournament. They can no longer afford any more reversals, else they might well join Mumbai (almost out) and Delhi on the sidelines.
With 8 wins from 10 games, Chennai are in a very comfortable position at the top of the ladder. Barring a Rajasthan resurgence and their own complacency, they are sure to finish amongst the top two which will give them two shots at attempting to qualify for the final.
The batting hasn't really been tested. The openers, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, with 440 and 333 runs respectively, have given them resounding starts in almost all matches. Suresh Raina, despite not being at his best, has chipped in at crucial junctures while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has his share in finishing off chases. If the batting wasn't solid enough, the inclusion of David Hussey as a replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo has strengthened it further.
While the batting has no worries, Dhoni has conceded that there is scope for improvement in the bowling department. Twice against Punjab, arguably the best batting unit of this year's tournament, the bowlers conceded more than 200 runs. Dhoni has called for improvement, and with the finals lurking around the corner, they can't afford to be lacklustre. With 18 wickets, Mohit Sharma is the joint leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far, but as the economy rate of 7.86 suggests, his wickets have come at a price. The bigger worry though for Chennai is the form of premier off-spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin. He seems to be lost for ideas when the batsmen decide to take the attack to him. Ashwin is one of the biggest trump-cards for Dhoni, and his lack of rhythm is a cause for concern. The rest of the bowlers have done fairly well in the tournament, and Dhoni will hope that they maintain their consistency.
Team News: David Hussey has joined the team ahead of the encounter against Bangalore, but it is hard to see the successful opening combination being split or Faf du Plessis being left out.
With 4 wins from 10 matches, Bangalore are struggling to stay afloat this season. For a team that boasts of batting riches, it was this very department that struggled during the UAE leg of the tournament. While the batting, barring Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle to an extent, seem to have recovered, the bowlers have found things extremely tough on home-soil, particularly in Bangalore.
Kohli has been the major disappointment for Bangalore. With just 154 runs, the Indian run-machine has been experiencing a massive low on form at least by his high standards. AB de Villiers has been reassuring though, and Bangalore will be gladdened by the form shown by Yuvraj Singh over the past two matches. With just four league matches remaining, the franchise will be praying for Gayle and Kohli to join the party.
The bowling, which held its own in the UAE leg, has come a cropper, particularly in Bangalore. Their failure to defend 65 runs from the last four overs against Rajasthan was as galling as the inability of the batsmen to finish off the chase against Kolkata in Sharjah, two big reasons why Bangalore find themselves in such a difficult position. The team management has chopped and changed the bowling attack several times, but with little or no success. Only Mitchell Starc and Yuzvendra Chahal have emerged with credit, with the young leg-spinner turning out to be the bargain buy of the season.
Team News: The win against Delhi came as a face saver and the team management might decide against making any changes to the winning combination.
In Indian T20 League, the pressure is of a different kind; there are these huge crowds cheering for you and expecting you to do well every time. I enjoy those moments because I visualized myself in these situations from a very young age: AB de Villiers.
It's exciting. I'm looking forward to it; a little nervous as well, but can't wait to join up with my new team-mates. The CHN team seems incomplete without a Hussey in their side: David Hussey.