Wounded CSK or Resurgent RCB: Who Will Set Up Eden Date with MI?
Just two more games to go and another exhilarating season of the Indian Premier League will come to an end. Mumbai have already made it to final following an impressive victory over the Chennai Super Kings. However, the Kings will get another shot at the finals spot courtesy of achieving pole position in the league stage. On the other hand, Royal Challengers Bangalore thrashed a hapless Rajasthan Royals to earn their spot in the Eliminator. Come Friday, these two forces from down south will take on each other to decide who will face the Mumbai Indians in the summit clash at the colossal Eden Gardens this Sunday.
It’s really been a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ for Chennai and Bangalore, both of whom have had highly contrasting seasons. While the Super Kings have remained at the top for most part of this year’s IPL, the Royal Challengers have literally fought ‘troubled waters’ to reach this stage of the tournament. After winning 6 out of their first 7 games in the tournament, the Kings have been a tad inconsistent towards the business end of the season. The Challengers, too, have blown hot and cold throughout the season, but they have managed to deliver the goods at crucial moments and have handled pressure well.
Talking about head-to-head between these two teams this year, CSK has dominated proceedings with two easy wins both home and away. On both occasions, seamer Ashish Nehra was the star of the show, grabbing 3 for 19 and 4 for 10 respectively. For RCB, only Virat Kohli stood up for a fight in both games, although completely in vain.
The Royal Challengers have had plenty of things going right for them this season. Despite a slow start to the season, the superstar top order batting trio of Gayle, Kohli and de Villiers has peaked at the right time for them with at least one of the them getting runs on the board almost every time. The decision of promoting AB de Villiers to number three in the batting order has paid rich dividends for Bangalore. The bowling department is also not doing bad either with 3 of the bowlers – Yuzvendra Chahal, Mitchell Starc and Harshal Patel - featuring in the list of top 10 wicket takers in this edition of the IPL.
For the Super Kings, it has been the seamers who have performed exceptionally, especially Dwayne Bravo and Nehra. While Bravo is currently the Purple Cap holder, the left-armer Nehra held it for a considerable amount of time this year. The other seam bowlers, Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey, have also done a decent job so far as support bowlers. As far as the batting is concerned, Chennai have not been dependent on one or two batsmen. Although they have been weakened by Brendon McCullum’s exit for national duties at such a crucial juncture, they still have enough firepower to get runs on the board.
Both teams have had their own set of issues as well in the duration of the tournament. While RCB have struggled to find consistent winning form despite excelling in all departments of the game, CSK have had troubles with their spin bowling department which has been their key strength over the years. Apart from these, there is really not much that has hampered the performance of these two teams.
It is really difficult to figure out which team has the edge in the Eliminator to be played on Friday. The Royal Challengers Bangalore may have a slight edge due to the fact that they have played more pressure games than their opponents this season. However, Chennai Super Kings have been there and done that, so they are likely to be unfazed by the pressure of the situation. An added bonus for Chennai is the fact that the venue(JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi) is the home ground of captain MS Dhoni and the crowd will surely be backing them.
The Eliminator of IPL Season 8 promises to be one hell of a game and it remains to be seen whether it lives up to the hype.