IPL legends Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni go to battle and our money is on the elder statesman guiding CSK to a priceless win over the table-toppers, says Jamie Pacheco...
"I also think they’re better suited to defending a score here in Mumbai than RCB are. I’d fancy CSK to chase well but with better spinners and arguably better strike bowlers at the to, I think they’d do a better job of defending than RCB. As outsiders, that’s enough reasons to go with them."
Chennai Super Kings v Royal Challengers Bangalore
Sunday April 25, 11:00
TV: live on Sky Sports Cricket
Ali starring in winning team
What a difference a change of venue makes. After last year's disastrous campaign over in the UAE, CSK look the dangerous, organised, united unit they've been more often than not since the IPL started.
They have three wins from four games and rather than a huge improvement in terms of new players coming in, it's been mostly the old faces doing the business.
Deepak Chahar has taken eight wickets in four games, Faf du Plessis got 95 not out last time and Ravi Jadeja has been doing his thing; chipping in with a few wickets and scoring some quick runs, while being outstanding in the field.
But the one new face is really making a difference. Moeen Ali has been fearless with the bat and has gone for lots of big shots (irrespective of the stage of the match) and has bowled well when given the chance.
Lungi Ngidi may keep his place after taking three wickets the other day, meaning Dwayne Bravo mises out.
Likely XI: Gaikwad, du Plessis, Ali, Raina, Rayudu, Curran, Jadeja, Dhoni, Chahar, Thakur, Ngidi.
RCBs plans going to plan
Could this be their season? It might.
The strategy of playing four overseas all-rounders in Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers, Kyle Jamieson and Dan Christian may not have been the best but they've rectified it already by bringing in at least one specialist bowler in Kane Richardson last time out.
On this occasion it was Christian who missed out but add opener Finn Allen to the equation and you can see they have some good options both on the field and waiting in the wings.
In truth, they probably conceded about 15 runs more than they should have given the position they had the Royals in last time. But given Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli scored 101 and 72 not out respectively in the chase and it wasn't a problem.
Still, you have a feeling that somewhere down the line they'll post a par total and not have the bowling resources to defend it. That's generally been the case with them so they'll hope they keep on having the option to chase.
Likely XI: Kohli, Padikkal, Maxwell, de Villiers, Ahmed, Jamieson, Sundar, Patel, Siraj, Richardson, Chahal.
Reasons to side with CSK
The last few matches have seen a return to high-scoring games here in Mumbai.
All sides batting first got to at least 175 in the last four games played here. The feeling is that 200 is what you need to be targeting and even then, it might not be enough. There has been some dew around and chasing looks the more sensible option but when you're facing a chase of 200, that comes with its own pressures and challenges. Still, both captains would rather chase, all things considered.
RCB are slight favourites, which is no surprise given they're unbeaten and won three of their matches pretty comfortably.
But I'm going to go with CSK here for two main reasons. They've had the upper hand in this fixture over the years and boast a 16-9 winning record in this fixture. That includes winning four of the last six.
I also think they're better suited to defending a score here in Mumbai than RCB are. I'd fancy CSK to chase well but with better spinners and arguably better strike bowlers at the top, I think they'd do a better job of defending than RCB. As outsiders, that's enough reasons to go with them.
AB to strike back
Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli made batting look ridiculously easy the other day against the Royals. Interestingly, neither had been in any sort of form before the game so a combination of poor Royals bowling and a good wicket may have been just what they both needed. They go off at 2/1 and 4/1 respectively, Padikkal being a better choice at exactly twice the price.
At 7/2 you can back their in-form man Glenn Maxwell, he of two man of the match awards in three games prior to that Royals game. He didn't bat at all against Rajasthan because he wasn't needed.
But it's very possible that in either setting or chasing a big score, they'll need to use a lot more batting resources this time. So step forward AB de Villiers, the man who is right up there with the best batsmen the IPL has seen and who has already top-scored once this season.
There's a suggestion he might bat at five but I honestly can't see Shahbaz Ahmed batting ahead of him in this one in what is almost certain to be a tight game.
De Villiers is never a bad price at 7/2 for one with his ability (even in the middle of so many other big-name RCB batsmen) and he's certainly a good one at 4/1, the price he's been boosted to here.
Ali worth a look
Du Plessis and Gaikwad go off as favourites after batting so well last time. They're 23/10 and 10/3 respectively.
Sam Curran looks big at 11/1 but hasn't been given many promotions up the order this year. Suresh Raina has an excellent record in the IPL but these days just looks to slog rather than play proper innings so is unlikely to get to 50, however quickly he scores. He's 11/2.
Moeen Ali probably looks the pick at 4/1 as a classy player batting at three. An average of 23 in the IPL with just three fifties suggests otherwise, but he was batting much lower for most of those matches.
JAMIE PACHECO'S 2021 IPL
Points Wagered: 9pts
Points Returned: 3.7
P ad L: -5.7