IPL 2018, CSK vs RCB: Chennai Super Kings (CSK) probable playing XI against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
Having slipped a notch after losing out to the Kolkata Knight Riders in their last game, the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings will be aiming to regain the top spot in the points table when they come up against a rejuvenated Royal Challengers Bangalore at their adopted home ground in Pune.
Here's what their lineup could look like against the RCB -
Shane Watson has been firing on all cylinders for the Super Kings at the top of the order. The 36-year-old has, till now, scored over 300 runs in nine games, and provides much-needed thrust with his batting. His medium-pace gives Dhoni the option of squeezing in extra overs in the middle.
Faf Du Plessis has been drafted into the side to bring in more stability, something that did raise eyebrows with Ambati Rayudu having shown fluency at the top. The South African has had a few edgy starts, but will continue to be backed by the Stephen Fleming-led think tank.
Suresh Raina has been racking up starts but hasn't played the one match-defining knock yet, ones that he compiled for the Super Kings in the past. If he can stay around until the end, he could help the Super Kings with the final push at the death while constructing the entire innings around himself.
Ambati Rayudu has been demoted in the batting order, but the runs continue to churn out of his bat, although not in the same quantity as in the first half of the tournament. All but one of his innings this year have been 20+, making him the most consistent batsman for the Men in Yellow.
MS Dhoni up the order has been an inspired move - the MSD of old has taken center-stage and walloped the ball like he used to in his heydays. After a few early failures, he has really come into his own, which has been the biggest positive for the Super Kings thus far.
Ravindra Jadeja isn't having the greatest of times at the moment - someone as safe as him dropped two back-to-back dollies against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the field. He hasn't made any impact whatsoever with the bat, and is struggling with the ball, but is unlikely to be dropped yet.
Dwayne Bravo was the hero for the team in the first game, and, perhaps, kicked off the momentum for the season for the Super Kings. More than his enterprising batting, however, it is his canny bowling that adds value to the side. He is held back by Dhoni to bowl in the second half of the innings and suffocates batsmen with his nagging lines.
Karn Sharma hasn't had much to do despite being in the playing XI and has inexplicably bowled one over in the last two games. He, however, presents a crucial leg-spinning option to the side and could be used to pick up wickets at crucial intervals.
Lungi Ngidi has impressed one and all with his ability to extract pace and bounce off any surface and cramps the opening batsmen in the powerplays with his tight lines. He has eased into the CSK setup and is rated highly by Dhoni, who himself said that he was impressed with him in the South Africa tour that preceded the IPL.
KM Asif was an unknown entity until a week ago but came to prominence in the side's game against the Delhi Daredevils on his debut by taking two wickets. Quick and steeply, he can also be expensive, owing to his inexperience, something that was witnessed in the last game against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
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