Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chennai Super Kings face royal challenge

CHENNAI: There's always an added flavour of southern rivalry to a Tamil Nadu-Karnataka contest. The Indian Premier League is more about franchises, but if you ask the owners of bothChennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore, they will say that this is one contest they would hate to lose. 

The local crop of the CSK team, too, harbours similar sentiments. They play Karnataka in different competitions through the year and there's always the added zing to be the best side of the zone when they are up against the boys from Bangalore. The likes of MS Dhoni and Suresh Raina have been in the mix for four years now and they understand what their franchisee expects out of them in this needle clash. 

RCB, though, has undergone quite a few changes this year. The likes of Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid,Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and R Vinaykumar are gone and it is difficult for the new crop to understand the sentiments of a Karnataka-Tamil Nadu scuffle. However, Kumble is pretty much a part of the RCB think-tank and one can be rest assured that the hard taskmaster will tell the boys what is expected from them in this prestige fight. 

And the very fact that RCB have lost two games in a row should also make them all the more keen to turn the tables on CSK. Though the IPL is a long journey and there have been quite a few comebacks after initial jitters, Daniel Vettori's boys cannot risk another failure in this game. 

The fact that Tillakaratne Dilshan hasn't been at his menacing best at the top of the order has left the team management a little worried. The team banks heavily on the Sri Lankan and though he has got a half-century against Mumbai Indians, RCB hope for something more from the opener. CSK, on the other hand, have been boosted by the addition of Doug Bollinger to lead their pace attack, but it's to be seen whether they play him right away against RCB. 

"Bollinger is a welcome addition to our attack and he is almost back to his full fitness," CSK coachStephen Fleming didn't commit whether he will play Saturday's game. RCB, though, are struggling with the injury of Dirk Nannes. The left-arm paceman is a brilliant T20 bowler, but now that he is unavailable, the load is a little too much on Zaheer Khan. The Indian pacer has had a long season and hasn't looked at his lethal best in the IPL. 

However, RCB skipper Daniel Vettori isn't losing sleep over it. "CSK are a very good team, but Kings XI have showed that they are beatable. There's no reason why we can't repeat the same thing," Vettori said after their loss to Deccan Chargers on Thursday. 

The loss was surely a bit of a disappointment for CSK, but Dhoni's boys are looking to forget it as a one-off episode. The arrival of Mike Hussey has increased their options, but the team management didn't give clear indications whether he will play on Saturday. 

Key Clashes: CSK vs RCB 

Doug Bollinger vs Tillakaratne Dilshan: Bollinger is back from an injury lay-off and will be the spearhead of the Chennai Super Kings attack. He was pretty much the backbone of the CSK pace attack last season and it will be on Tillakaratne Dilshan to counter him. The duel between the two can well decide the fate of the match 

MS Dhoni vs Daniel Vettori: Both are canny skippers and know how to handle their resources. Both the skippers have suffered defeats in their last games and they will have to motivate their boys to come back hard. It will also be interesting to see how Dhoni handles Vettori in the middle. The left-arm spinner has been good in the IPL so far and it may come down to Dhoni to take a few liberties against him and negate his effect. 

Zaheer Khan vs Murali Vijay: Vijay looked good in the game against Kings XI and he can be a threat to any attack if he is able to negotiate the first couple of overs. Zaheer though, will bring all his experience into play and will look to strike early and put CSK on the backfoot so the famed middle-order comes under pressure. But if Vijay does play out Zaheer without much difficulty, things may go uphill for RCB.

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