Languishing at the bottom of the points table, Chennai Super Kings will face a confident Royal Challengers Bangalore in match number 44 of IPL 2020 at Dubai on Sunday, the first game of a double-header.
Following the crushing 10-wicket defeat at the hands of defending champions Mumbai in their previous encounter, CSK’s hopes of qualifying for the IPL 2020 play-offs have been all but dashed. Even if they win all their games from hereon, and the other results go their way, it will be next to impossible for them to lift their net run rate following the disastrous show against Mumbai.
RCB, on the other hand, got the better of Sunrisers Hyderabad by eight wickets in their previous encounter, and are on par with MI and DC as far as points are concerned, with only an inferior run-rate placing them at number three on the points table.
As RCB look to carry on the momentum, here are three player battles that could be central to the match result.
#1. AB de Villiers vs Imran Tahir
While RCB have had an uncharacteristically brilliant IPL 2020 so far, it would only be fair to say that things might not have been as rosy for them had it not been for AB de Villiers’ spectacular efforts. On two occasions, de Villiers has single-handedly been responsible for RCB’s triumphs.
His unbeaten 73 off 33 balls against KKR at Sharjah was a masterly effort, with all other batsmen struggling to get their timing right. Recently, he slammed 55 from 22 against RR to lift the team home from an uncomfortable position. The cricketer, who has retired from international cricket (but there have been talks about his return), still has plenty to offer to his beloved franchise.
For CSK, veteran leggie Imran Tahir finally got his chance in the playing eleven against Mumbai Indians. Tahir who was, ironically, the Purple Cap holder of IPL 2019, couldn’t make much of an impression as the batsmen gave him nothing to defend.
The feisty character that he is, the 40-plus Tahir would be keen to make an impact against RCB. Reaching the play-offs may be beyond CSK’s reach. But Tahir will want to leave his imprint on IPL 2020. Getting the better of his country-mate de Villiers can make that possible. It will be a massive challenge, however.
#2. Devdutt Padikkal vs Deepak Chahar
Often the start of an innings can set the tone for things to follow. This is why an opener’s role is important even in the T20 version. In the clash between Delhi and Kolkata, Pat Cummins trapped Ajinkya Rahane lbw first ball.
Cummins was a completely different bowler from that point, and came up with his finest performance IPL 2020. For RCB, Devdutt Padikkal has been doing an impressive job at the top, getting the team off to confident starts even as Aaron Finch has failed to live up to expectations. Padikkal will be expected to continue giving RCB fluent starts.
At the top of the innings, Padikkal will come up against Deepak Chahar, who has been CSK’s most consistent bowler by some distance.
The medium pacer has run in and kept things tight around the door of uncertainty, giving very little away. With 10 wickets from 11 IPL 2020 games at an economy rate of 7.23, he has made his mark. Chahar will look to test Padikkal’s patience as well, and try to induce a false stroke from him. Will the young batsman survive the test?
#3. Faf du Plessis vs Mohammed Siraj
RCB pacer Mohammed Siraj had a sensational outing against KKR. With the ball doing a bit, he took full advantage of the same to leave Kolkata reeling. The deliveries he bowled to get rid of Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana and Tom Banton would have troubled most big names.
Siraj’s figures of 3 for 8 would go down among the best in IPL history. He would be extremely confident of putting up a good show against CSK as well.
Chennai opener Faf du Plessis would be keen to resurrect himself after a few low scores in the second half of IPL 2020. Apart from his half-century against Delhi Capitals, he doesn’t have much to show by way of performances of late. In the thrashing against Mumbai, he slashed at a ball outside off without moving his feet. Du Plessis must look to get his touch back if CSK are to finish IPL 2020 on a high. If the ball moves around, Siraj could trouble him. Du Plessis thus needs to watch out for the bowler.Published 25 Oct 2020, 15:07 IST