Let’s do a social experiment. Take a bunch of fans from Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings and put them in a room with a hidden camera inside. Ask them to have a discourse between themselves and chances are you have to intervene within minutes of shutting down the door. This is not going in a civil way.
In terms of success, CSK and RCB are at the opposite end of the spectrum but tell that to an RCB fan, tantrums of “fixers, ban and all that” would flow like a river. CSK fans would forever hold their “Thala” at the top of the echelon and would defend their side with all sorts of logic, or lack thereof. However, when both sides meet in the middle, cricket does take over in a magnificent manner with their captains leading the way.
The carnage that Virat Kohli inflicted last year is still fresh in everyone’s minds and Chennai will do well to remember that the RCB skipper has always done well against the Southern Indian team in the IPL. He has scored 887 runs at an average over 40 against CSK while his 472 runs at the Wankhede stadium and an average of 79 are the highest for any player in the history of the tournament. Can he replicate the same success? A lot will definitely depend on that.
Can Chahal pull up his socks?
For the most part of RCB’s sojourn in the last half a decade, Yuzvendra Chahal has been their savior, doing the tough job at the Chinnaswamy. However, his drop in form this IPL hasn’t been noticed much thanks to the Harshal Patel impetus at the death and Mohammed Siraj’s astonishing rise as a new-ball bowler.
Despite RCB playing their first leg in Chennai, clearly favorable for spin bowling, Chahal has the sixth-worst strike rate out of all the spinners to have played in this IPL so far. In terms of his economy rate, Chahal is not faring too well either, having conceded too many runs for RCB’s liking in the Chennai leg. It will definitely be a cause of concern, especially knowing a middle-order implosion is necessary to initiate a CSK collapse. RCB can hope that he does well against Chennai - an opposition he has a special liking for, having an economy less than 7. Knowing Chahal is a big part of RCB’s plans, planning well would be the key but then again, there is a Wankhede factor to be worried about.
CSK’s contrasting fortunes in the PP and death
As a franchise, CSK have always been clear about their bowling plans - partly because MS Dhoni excels as a skipper when he has the entire control to himself. With all the bowlers complimenting his philosophy, CSK have excelled as a bowling-dominant unit - but somewhere, that has gone a metamorphosis in the last couple of years.
In IPL 2021, In games where CSK managed to take a wicket inside the Powerplay, they’ve won all three games in this IPL. In the only defeat against DC, they failed to pick a wicket. Since IPL 2019, whenever CSK win 83% of games, they get 3+ wickets in the powerplay, with Deepak Chahar being the major architect of the wins.
However, the returns at death haven't been in sync with their performance in the Powerplay phase of the innings that might worry MS Dhoni coming into the RCB encounter. In the previous game against KKR, despite only bowling 4.1 overs in this phase, CSK conceded 56 runs at the death, with Pat Cummins tearing apart Sam Curran. Even though Dwayne Bravo has done well at the death, CSK can’t play him and Lungi Ngidi in the same XI. If CSK somehow sort out that issue, they will be in to end RCB’s winning streak this season and help themselves to the top of the table.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (c), Devdutt Padikkal, Shahbaz Ahmed, Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers (wk), Washington Sundar, Kyle Jamieson, Kane Richardson, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal
Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Sam Curran, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi, Deepak Chahar