Despite RCB being an underperforming side in the IPL, their clash against CSK has always been one of the focal points in the league. This is not just because of the battle between the capital cities of two states that could not agree on sharing water from a river. It is also due to a fan-made buildup as India’s past and current captain face each other.
While the clash has fit the bill of being a close-fought contest, it has ended in despair for Virat Kohli’s men on most occasions. Since he took over the reins of RCB in 2013, they have beaten CSK only thrice in eleven encounters.
However, the two sides find themselves in unfamiliar positions on the points table so far this season. Going into this important clash in Dubai, they will enter on a common note, looking to overcome a loss they suffered in their respective last game.
Old wounds relapse for RCB
RCB’s issues with the ball in the death overs are well known. Coming into this season, they were the most expensive side in the last five overs since 2018. From an overall perspective, KXIP’s implosion in this phase takes some of the limelight away from RCB’s familiar woes.
So far, RCB have not played a match in Sharjah which is a downright batting-friendly venue. If we exclude matches there, RCB bowlers continue to be the least effective in the death overs in this season as well.
Earmarked as their death bowler this season, Navdeep Saini has bowled seven out of RCB’s 24.4 overs in this phase. Leaking runs at 12.3 runs per over, he has just two wickets to his name in the last five overs.
The trouble for him has been the execution of yorkers as 26.2% (11 out of 42) balls have ended up being a full-toss and have resulted in 28 runs. As a sign of bad execution, RCB bowlers have bowled three beamers in the last two games in the latter half of the innings. Saini has bowled two of them. Apart from Saini, each of the six other bowlers that RCB have bowled at the death have an economy in double digits.
While death bowling continues to be a headache for RCB, a fit Chris Morris might be available for their clash against CSK to shoulder some of the burden. Also, given that CSK lack firepower in their middle-order, RCB can use it as an opportunity to settle into some death bowling rhythm.
The lull after Powerplay
RCB revamped their opening pair with youngster Devdutt Padikkal and the Aussie white-ball skipper Aaron Finch this IPL. So far, the pairing has worked as they have scored runs at 8.17 runs per over in the Powerplay. This is the highest among all teams this year irrespective of the venue.
However, once the Powerplay is over, things derail for RCB. Their run-rate of 6.93 is the least among all the sides, even if we take into account only the matches outside Sharjah. Aiding this is a dismal balls per boundary record of 10.8 in overs 7 to 15.
Being off-colour so far, Kohli has added 90 runs in 83 balls in this phase, a rate of nearly run-a-ball. Not a single RCB batsman has a strike-rate of more than 130 in this phase. The most fluent are AB de Villiers, who has a rate of 128, and Padikkal who barely touches 120 (120.6).
There seems to be a plan to go into the death overs with wickets in hand. However, after a good Powerplay, a break in momentum can be counter-productive as it can result in a subpar total for a team struggling with its death bowlers.
What to expect from CSK?
It is fair to say that time has finally caught up with Dhoni’s men. In the first few matches, they had no-balls and dropped catches to blame. But, it is becoming clearer after each passing game that they lack the fuel to compete at the level expected from them.
Their bowlers put up a good show against KKR in the last match. They managed to dent them at regular intervals and did not let them post a big total. CSK remain the only side as of now who have not let either of Kieron Pollard or Andre Russell to break free this season.
However, such is their ineptness with the bat that a subpar total is a mountain to climb for them. As a ray of hope, they have not got an opportunity to bat first this season. Looking at their batting unit, it will not be a bad call, if they win the toss, to bat first and get that demon out of the way.
Looking at team changes, it is tough to foresee a change in the bowling department after good returns against KKR. As for their batting, their decision to not look for replacements for Suresh Raina does not leave them with many options. However, it might be wise to test Ruturaj Gaikwad from here on and relieve Kedar Jadhav from his misery.
It might not give them immediate results but with a team staring at an overhaul soon, it might leave them with one less seat to fill.
CSK – Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, Ruturaj Gaikwad, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Sam Curran, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Karn Sharma, Deepak Chahar
RCB – Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli ©, AB de Villiers (wk), Gurkeerat Singh, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Chris Morris, Isuru Udana, Yuzvendra Chahal, Navdeep Saini