Royal Challengers eye an elusive victory at Chepauk

Royal Challengers eye an elusive victory at Chepauk

Royal Challengers eye an elusive victory at Chepauk

The immediate memories -- though the match took place over two years ago -- of the MA Chidambaram Stadium for the Royal Challengers Bangalore are anything but happy.

When Royal Challengers thought that they had sewn up the match in their favour against the Chennai Super Kings in the 2013 edition, the harsh reality dawned upon them that it was instead the hosts who had sneaked home in a bizarre thriller, if there is anything like that. With two needed off the final delivery, Ravindra Jadeja slashed RP Singh, who is now the in-house expert on IPL’s official broadcaster Sony Six (stranger things have happened in cricket, haven’t they?), only to be caught at third man.

Even as the RCB dugout erupted in celebration, their enthusiasm was snuffed out instantly when they saw the umpire signal a no-ball. Replays revealed RP Singh had in fact overstepped by a mile!

Come to think of it, Chennai hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Royal Challengers who have lost five of their seven outings (including two CLT20 ties) at Chepauk and all of those defeats have been against Super Kings. The last engagement between the two neighbouring sides in Bengaluru went in favour of MS Dhoni’s team and on Monday afternoon, beating them will be harder than coping with the sweltering weather here.

Since their loss to Super Kings, however, Royal Challengers have built a nice momentum for themselves, having gone undefeated in their last four encounters. While they could have won their abandoned game against Rajasthan Royals at the Chinnaswamy last Wednesday after piling 200 runs, Virat Kohli’s men picked up season’s first home win in a 10-over slugfest against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday.

Super Kings, on the other hand, have lost two in two on the road. While the momentum is definitely with Royal Challengers, history suggests that taming Super Kings at their bastion is no mean job.

Super Kings have maintained a clean slate here this season, winning four out of four, and Royal Challengers will have to bring out their A game to the table to stand a chance against two-time champions.

The Super Kings’ batting has struggled a bit in the last two defeats, and that’s something the rejuvenated visiting attack will be hoping to exploit. It’s almost become a cliché that Mitchell Starc, arguably the finest bowler in the shorter version at the moment, has added positive energy to the Challengers’ attack but their toughest test will come against CSK’s crack opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith.

While there is no doubt that the home team bats deep, ejecting McCullum and Smith early will put them in an advantageous position. Chepauk pitch has a tendency to play slow and low and it remains to be seen whether Royal Challengers bring back left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla in a place of an Indian seamer or stick to the winning combination. It will also be interesting to see what kind of strip will be rolled out with CSK’s injured ace off-spinner R Ashwin still a doubt for the match.

Challengers’ batting too has come along well in the last few matches with at least two of Chris Gayle, Kohli and AB de Villiers getting amongst runs. What has been more encouraging though is the contribution of the Indian batsmen. Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh and to an extent Dinesh Karthik have come to the party to shatter the myth that the RCB’s batting is all about the Big Three.

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