Royal Challengers Bangalore v Chennai Super Kings
Friday 24 September, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports
Gaikwad tremendous, Curran set to return
IF CSK finish Top 2 and give themselves a great chance of going all the way, they can thank Ruturaj Gaikwad for his brilliant 88 off 58 balls.
It was the difference between posting a highly-competitive 156/6 on a tough track, or being skittled out for about 120.
He played like a true champ, did Gaikwad. Moeen Ali, Faf du Plessis and Ambati Rayudu all went for ducks but he weathered the storm, nudged and nurdled what he could for most of the innings and then exploded into life at the death, when he was well set and Mumbai's bowlers were frustrated.
A Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan or Babar Azam would have been proud of that knock.
They were also decent with the ball. Deepak Chahar took 2-19 and Dwayne Bravo was even better with 3-25. Considering he also smashed 23 off 8 (the other contribution with the bat that made all the difference) and you can see why on any other day he would have been a comfortable man-of-the-match winner.
Josh Hazlewood dismissed the dangerous Kieron Pollard but that was his only wicket and he was quite expensive, going at 8.5 an over.
With Sam Curran available for this match, the Aussie could be the one making way.
RCB on the wrong end of a beating
What a disastrous return to the IPL that was. Out for 92 against a side that was struggling.
Devdutt Padikkal top-scored with just 22 while their all-star trio of Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers scored just 15 runs between them. And that Top 4 was meant to be where their strength lies.
Everyone is allowed a bad day at the office and they could be forgiven for not giving it their all with the ball given their race was clearly run.
But it's one of those losses that could have some seriously damaging effects.
It's the points lost, it's the fact they're letting KKR back in the game, it's the damage to their net run rate and it's the loss of confidence and morale.
Sri Lankan Wanindu Hasaranga de Silva had a shocker, going for a golden duck and conceding 20 off two overs. Harsh to drop him after just one game but that may well be his fate with Dan Christian chomping at the bit to show what he can do.
Possible XI Paddikal, Kohli, Bharat, Maxwell, De Villiers, Azharudeen, Christian, Jamieson, Harshal, Chahal, Siraj.
This is the first game of the 2021 IPL to be played at Sharjah.
This was by far the highest-scoring ground of the three that games were played at last year.
The first four matches there last year saw first-innings scores of 216, 223, 228 and 208.
So it would be safe to assume that given the wicket is a fresh one, we should get a high-scoring match.
190 looks to be the bare minimum therefore for the side batting first but we'll have to wait and see what sort of price we'll get on that in the first innings runs market.
CSK a very attractive price
So, 1.84/5 is a pretty good price about CSK. Why?
Well they've been considerably more consistent than RCB this season and unlike the men in red, they didn't have any disruptions regarding player availability, Sam Curran quarantining and missing that first match, aside.
RCB, it should be remembered, lost four overseas players during the break to go with Washington Sundar, who was injured. No wonder they struggled to find the right balance in that first game.
And just look at that head-to-head record: 18-9 in favour of CSK with one tie thrown in. For good measure, CSK beat them comfortably when they played back in April. CSK posted 191/4 after an excellent effort from Ravindra Jadeja (62 off 28) and a good start from du Plessis, who scored 50 off 41.
One must also wonder to what extent the two captains have played a part in that one-sided head-to-head record.
MS Dhoni is one of the canniest captains in the IPL, Virat Kohli one of the least imaginative and innovative.
It would be no surprise if Dhoni outwits Kohli once again.
It's been a good few weeks for Dwayne Bravo. Personally, I thought he'd pretty much lost it and was a shadow of his former self. He wasn't bowling as well, he was batting lower down the order and just slogging every ball rather than playing proper shots. Even his fielding wasn't quite as sharp.
But he got recalled to the Windies T20 side and subsequently made the cut for the World Cup. In between that he guided the Saint Kitts and Nevis Patriots to their first CPL title, captaining the side well in his first season there and taking seven wickets across just two games in early September.
And then he came to the IPL and duly delivered with that 3/25 last time out. Thakur is 11/4, Deepak Chahar 3/1 and Jadeja 10/3 but I'd much rather go with Bravo at 4.1, high on confidence and very much in the groove.
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