Chennai, April 16: Both the Chennai Super Kings and the Royal Challengers Bangalore are coming off shock defeats. The former thought they had their match against Kings XI Punjab in the bag when they posted the till-then highest score in IPL 4 of 188/4 only to witness the brilliance of a certain Paul Valtathy run it down, while the latter's batting order was left in disarray trying to chase down a formidable 175 set by the Deccan Chargers.
Now, both sides badly need a win to get their IPL campaign back on the rails, Bangalore even more so considering they have lost two back-to-back matches. They need the spark in their game which took them to victory against the Tuskers in their opening match. After all, since taht outing, their line-up has come up with totals of under 150. Virat Kohli has emerged the side's most consistent batsman with a hokey run of 23, 12 and 71. Though his last innings may indicate he is on the rise, what about the rest of the top-order?
After an brisk, match-winning and unbeaten 54 from AS B de Villiers in the match against the Tuskers, he has appeared to have stepped into the shadows, managing to notch up 38 and a duck in subsequent matches - hardly a display becoming of a batsman of his stature. Tillakaratne Dilshan and Saurabh Tiwary's showing has been equally wishy washy. And it's certainly not a wise idea to send a novice batsman like Zaheer up the order, even if he is ostensibly expected to fulfill the role of a pinch-hitter.
Zaheer should be left to concentrate on his bowling which appears to be coming together fairly well from last count as he took 3/32 from 4 overs against the Deccan Chargers. Dirk Nannes and Abhimanyu Mithun too will have to step up to the plate if the RCB bowling is to make any headway.
Meanwhile, Chennai can take heart from the fact that they are playing in their own backyard, a milieu where they generally win. Murali Vijay (74 off 43) and Subramanium Badrinath (66 off 56) did a commendable job at reviving their side's innings after being 0/2 against Kings XI Punjab and then launching out towards a top total. Fans will hope they pull of a similar feat against Bangalore and save the other batsman any worries.
But the bowling is a concern. Of course, one could argue that thier chief tormentor Valthaty, in the previous match had a flash in the pan when he knocked up 120 off 63 balls. But the Chennai bowlers will be wary of the potential of the Bangalore batting. Tim Southee and R Ashwin will be expected to lead the attack. So let's see what they do...