Port Elizabeth: First edition semi-finalists Victoria Bushrangers are in danger of facing an early exit from the Champions League T20 as they take on Group A table-toppers Chennai Super Kings in the second game of the double-header at the St. George's Park here on Saturday.
While Chennai have won both their games so far with aplomb, the Bushrangers have one win and one loss. And with the Warriors also having won both their games, the pressure will all be on the Bushrangers to keep their chances alive in the race to the last-four stage.
Chennai, led by the charismatic MS Dhoni, have been in superlative form in the first two games with both batsmen and bowlers coming to the party. Opener Mathew Hayden hasn't hit a purple patch yet and the Bushrangers will hope that the Aussie won't want to make up for the lost chances in this game.
The Super Kings, however, have been well served by the others. Suresh Raina, Murali Vijay, Anirudha Srikkanth and Albie Morkel have all found the sweet spot of the bat. Even after struggling in the initial stages of the opening game, the Chennai batsmen were able to dig themselves out of the hole and post a decent total.
In the second game, Vijay and Raina put on an exhibition as they hammered the hapless Wayamba bowlers to all parts of the park to bring up this edition's first 200-run score. And the duo will surely want to carry on from where they left off in that game.
Chennai's bowlers too have been in terrific form. Doug Bollinger's opening spells have been exacting and incisive, while R Ashwin and Muttiah Muralitharan have spun quite a web in the two games. MS Dhoni is expected to use these two bowlers from the word go as the track is expected to help the spinners.
On the other hand, the Bushrangers, who started the tournament as one of the favourites, were in for a rude shock when they went down by 28 runs in their opening game against the Warriors. They bounced back to win their next game against the Central Stags, but not before they were stretched until the last over. Opener Rob Quiney and skipper David Hussey haven't played to their potential and will have to take up more responsiblity in the game against Chennai.
Aaron Finch has been the outstanding performer with the bat for them and it was he who single-handedly helped the team win against the Stags. If Chennai bat first and set a stiff target, the Bushrangers' middle order could see a collapse unless they show more grit and determination.
The Bushrangers' bowling lineup, though, has done a decent job with Peter Siddle and Dirk Nannes amongst their ranks. But again with the wicket expected to take some spin, an all-out pace attack may not be the best option against a hungry opposition like Chennai.
Neither of the teams is expected to change their winning combination, but at the moment Chennai's definitley got the edge.