RCB will not only have to beat Chennai to remain in contention for play-offs, but also hope that Sunrisers Hyderabad lose their last game. (BCCI)
Bangalore: Royal Challengers Bangalore find themselves in a do-or-die situation after two back-to-back losses to Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab. Not only do they have to beat Chennai Super Kings handsomely on Saturday, but they need Sunrisers Hyderabad to lose their last match on Sunday. A seven-wicket loss to KXIP on Tuesday meant sure shot play-off berths for Chennai, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians, leaving three teams fighting for the final spot - Hyderabad, Bangalore and Punjab.
Going into the crunch game, Bangalore will be banking on their T20 superstars Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli to fire at home. With two losses and two victories in their final four games Chennai are yet to find their top gear and even RCB would look to erase the memories of their three losses in the last four matches. The Chinnaswamy Stadium has been a happy hunting ground for Gayle with 504 runs out of his 680 coming here including that mind-boggling 175 not out against Pune Warriors.
Kohli continues to be strong at No. 3 and Cheteshwara Pujara has provided some solidity at the top, though his scoring rate is bit of a concern. The recent form of Moises Henriques has been a plus for RCB strengthening their batting, but it was their bowling that let the team down against KXIP. Zaheer Khan's return did not inspire the bowling much and even though Vinay Kumar and Jaydev Unadkat are taking wickets at regular intervals, they have conceded runs at an alarming rate.
One thing CSK have done most consistently in the past five years of IPL is to peak at the right time. After slow starts, they have always picked up the pace leaving the rest behind, but that is not the case this season. Although they still are at the top of the leader board, their form has been shaky and Bangalore will be aiming to exploit this very shakiness heading into their final league game.
Chennai ave less to worry about regarding the match and the form of their players as well. Michael Hussey, who is behind Gayle with 640 runs in IPL 6, will again be expected to provide a solid start for the team once again setting up a strong platform for the likes of Suresh Raina and captain MS Dhoni to accelerate in the death overs.
The purple cap holder Dwayne Bravo has been the most reliable CSK player and with Mohit Sharma enjoying his own purple patch, the bowling department looks as solid as ever. The likes of R Ashwin, Chris Morris and Albie Morkel too have contributed to the team whenever required.
With the odds stacked heavily against their favour and with the strongest team in the tournament up against them, Bangalore have their task cut out.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Cheteshwar Pujara, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Lokesh Rahul, 7 Arun Karthik (wk), 8 Vinay Kumar, 9 Muttiah Muralitharan, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Jaydev Unadkat
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Michael Hussey, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt/wk), 5 Ravindra Jadeja, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Subramaniam Badrinath, 8 Albie Morkel, 9 Ravichandran Ashwin, 10 Jason Holder, 11 Mohit Sharma