The Telegraph
Sunday , May 18 , 2014

RCB in battle for survival

Ranchi: Barring the two encounters versus table-toppers Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), Chennai Super Kings (CSK) have got almost everything right in IPL VII.

As of now, they have appeared the most complete team in the competition with all three departments looking to be in perfect shape. Placed second in the standings, they find themselves with a very good opportunity to go atop the table as they face an inconsistent Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), here, at the JSCA International Stadium, on Sunday.

Of course, there’s no shortage of big names in the RCB battalion, but inconsistency and tendency to choke at pressure situations have pulled them down during crucial junctures. So, considering the present scenario, the Virat Kohlis and Chris Gayles will have to play out of their skins to get the better of CSK.

CSK were a disappointed lot when their home matches were shifted from Chennai, following the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association’s failure to get government clearances for conducting matches at the Chepauk.

The shift to Ranchi has hardly had any effect on the team as not just Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but the rest of the players, too, seem to be enjoying home comfort.

Having notched up two victories in as many appearances at this venue so far in the competition, the Super Kings look as strong in Ranchi as they are in Chennai. Their most recent triumph here was against the formidable Rajasthan Royals in a game where they showed excellent nerves.

Besides, the conditions too seem ideal for CSK especially with the bowling attack at their disposal. It’s not quite a star-studded attack, but so far, the bowlers have done a commendable job, complementing the batsmen to a big extent.

Pacer Mohit Sharma has been a consistent performer and is currently the joint leader in the wicket-takers’ list with 18 scalps to his credit along with Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The way Mohit has been bowling lately, it won’t be too easy for the likes of Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers to play the big shots at will.

In Ravindra Jadeja and Samuel Badree, CSK have the spin options that are capable enough to turn a match on its head. And if Ravichandran Ashwin, too, gets his rhythm back, it will only make matters more and more difficult for the opposition.

Presence of power-hitters in Dwayne Smith, Brendon McCullum and captain Dhoni himself, RCB bowlers need to be extremely careful with their line and length. There’s little or no margin of error bowling to the trio, especially given their present form. Even Jadeja is able enough to contribute to the team’s cause with the long handle.

And when McCullum leaves after the game on the 24th due to family commitments, CSK will have David Hussey joining in. Hussey is someone who has already proved his mettle in this format.

RCB, on the other hand, have been erratic to say the least. However, going into the match after a comprehensive victory over the bottom-ranked Delhi DareDevils should boost their morale.

Yuvraj’s return to form is also one aspect that should help the Royal Challengers breathe a little easy. The way Yuvraj batted the other day against the DareDevils was reminiscent of the form he was during 2007-09. He hasn’t done a poor job with the ball as well.