Chennai: Royal Challengers Bangalore face the rather intimidating task of upstaging Chennai Super Kings in their backyard, when the two teams go head-to-head in match 13 of IPL 5, at the MA Chidambaram stadium on Thursday. After beating Delhi Daredevils in their opening match, Bangalore were dealt a bitter blow on Tuesday, when they were outplayed by Kolkata Knight Riders by 42 runs in front of a disappointed home crowd.
CSK, playing hosts in the crucial encounter against RCB, have problems of their own and like Bangalore don't have much time to recover from their defeat against Delhi at the Feroz Shah Kotla, where they managed a measly 110 for 8 to go down by eight wickets. Having lost two of their three games Chennai find themselves in sixth place on the points table - just ahead of Bangalore - which should be enough to add a few more grey hairs on MS Dhoni, whose team have won the last two editions of the IPL.
The much-anticipated inclusion of Chris Gayle to RCB's playing XI failed to pay dividends in the clash against KKR as the hard-hitting opening bat scored just two before falling to Jacques Kallis. An onslaught from the muscular left-hand batsman has very often been as good as a victory for Bangalore, so it will be imperative that Gayle fires in the match against Chennai as RCB look to register their second win of the tournament.
Even though Bangalore's bowling attack has held its own thus far, it is the batting which would be a cause of concern for Daniel Vettori and his men. After being kept down to 157 for 8 against Delhi, Bangalore were restricted to 123 for 9 against Kolkata while chasing 166 for victory. They, in fact were reeling at 33 for 5 before some late order heroics by Vinay Kumar (25 off 26) took the team past the 100-run mark. In that regard, RCB may bring in Tillakaratne Dilshan to partner Gayle at the top of the innings, which would mean resting Muttiah Muralitharan. It is a very tough decision, but one that the team management will strongly consider.
If Dilshan returns at Murali's expense, Bangalore will turn to one of their domestic bowlers and the likely candidates are spinner J Syed Mohammad or left-arm seamer Sreenath Aravind. Harshal Patel's hammering in the previous match could also mean he is replaced. Abhimanyu Mithun may come into the fray in that regard.
While the 2011 runners-up will be looking to cash in on their opponent's inconsistent form in the competition, Chennai would like to believe that they have the mental edge for Thursday's game as they have had the better of Bangalore in six of their 11 fixtures, which includes the title clash in last year's IPL, on the very ground that the two sides will gear up for yet another battle.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Faf du Plessis, 1 Srikkanth Anirudha/Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 8 Albie Morkel, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Shadab Jakati, 11 Doug Bollinger
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Saurabh Tiwary, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6, Mayank Agarwal, 7 Daniel Vettori (capt), 8 R Vinay Kumar, 9 Harshal Patel/Abhimanyu Mithun, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Sreenath Aravind/J Syed Mohammad