Pune: Ten days back one image of Virat Kohli embracing MS Dhoni went viral on the internet and it was aptly captioned ‘Fire and Ice’
The image was taken after Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) met for the first time this season in Bengaluru 10 days ago.
Despite AB de Villiers’ swashbuckling 68 helping RCB post 205 runs, certain MS Dhoni’s smashing innings of unbeaten 70 runs helped CSK take the honours.
On Saturday, at the MCA International Stadium, these two teams will lock horns once again at the crucial junction of the tournament.
Chennai, playing at their adopted home in Pune, has slipped to the second spot in the standing after losing to Kolkata Knight Riders on Thursday. On the other hand, having got off the blocks slowly, Virat Kohli’s men have their task cut out and have to win almost all their remaining matches to make it to the last four.
Leading from the front
The two skippers apart from their huge popularity will once again be the focal points for their sides with their leadership and with their bat.
Kohli sits third in the chart for most runs this season with 349 runs from 8 outings at an average of 58.16, while Dhoni is merely 20 runs behind his counterpart but has an astonishing average of 82.25 due to five unbeaten scores against his name.
Kohli has dominated the batting arena in all forms of the game for the last 18 months with an utmost ease, while the scribes are jumping at every opportunity to criticise Dhoni everytime he fails to make a contribution with the bat. This season, Kohli, wearing heart on the sleeve, even refusing to wear the Orange Cap for most runs after a loss against Mumbai Indians, is as usual leading from the front.
The senior-pro, Dhoni, too has turned the clock back with his vintage finishing helping his side win the close matches which counts at the business end of the tournament. On Saturday, the most famous Indian cricketers of the generation will look to inspire their sides in one of those games, a result of which counts in the end.
The ABD boost
If there is any foreign national who can make the Indian crowd chant his name pan-India it is AB de Villiers.
The elegant South African batsman, with his 360-degree stroke play, can turn the game singlehandedly and Chennai Super Kings has experienced the same once already this season.
On the eve of the match, Royal Challengers Bangalore received a big boost when he was declared fit to play after missing out two encounters due to viral fever.
“AB de Villiers is back fit. Quinton (de Kock) is away from this game. He has returned home for a wedding. He is unavailable for this match. Easy decision for us to make,” said Daniel Vettori, head coach of the visiting side when asked about the update on AB’s fitness.
† Bowling has certainly been a worry for both CSK and RCB in their recent outings having failed to defend the total they should have defended.
† CSK, having batted first in their last three games, has failed to defend the totals of 170 (vs MI) and 177 (vs KKR), while they were spared the blushes against Delhi, managing to defend the total of 211 by mere 14 runs.
† On the other hand, RCB did an exceptional job of defending 167 against Mumbai in their last match, having failed to defend 175 against KKR and 205 after MSD took the game away from them.
† “I think we are really satisfied with the way we bowled in the last game. I think we got our combination right. We also know how good a team Chennai is. Batting may play an important part given how good the surface is here but ultimately execution with the ball will be the defining factor in the game,” Vettori further added.
† Come Saturday, when the two teams will go out on the field in the scorching Sun, only things that will be there on their minds will be the crucial victory, which will see either CSK go top of the table or RCB keeping their hopes of play-offs alive in the tournament.