Dhoni up against wily Kumble

IPL teams go head to head in high-voltage first semifinal at Kingsmead today

Dhoni up against wily Kumble

Both the teams will put up a no-hold-barred efforts to win Friday’s contest at the floodlit Kingsmead ground here and take another stride towards becoming the first Indian Premier League team to win the show-piece Twenty20 tournament.

Riding on a disciplined performance by the bowlers, the Chennai team on Wednesday snatched a 10-run win over Warriors, and Dhoni would surely expect an encore when the IPL champions take the ground.

Spinner R Ashwin, who scalped three wickets for just 24 runs against Warriors, and opening left-arm pacer Doug Bollinger would look for some early breakthroughs while in the middle overs Suresh Raina’s contribution with the ball is expected to be crucial.

Chennai’s spin department would be spearheaded by legendary Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, while left-arm tweaker Shadab Jakati would have to extend support. Chennai’s batting also looks solid with Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay at the top, followed by Suresh Raina, the skipper himself Dhoni and S Badrinath adding muscle to the middle order.

On the other hand, in-form Rahul Dravid will be the mainstay of the Bangalore batting order. Dravid, who cracked a fine unbeaten 71 against Mumbai Indians, would try to do it again in the final-four match. And even though the team will miss South African star Jacques Kallis, his replacement Manish Pandey played a fine knock in the final group game against Lions on Tuesday.

Virat Kohli has been fine form, powering Challengers into the semifinals with his unbeaten 49 while big-hitters Robin Uthappa, Ross Taylor and Cameron White can be destructive on their day.

In the bowling department, captain Anil Kumble, who has led from the front so far in the tournament, would once again spearhead the bowling attack with the two Kumars -- Praveen and Vinay -- expected to give him good support.

Meanwhile, Dale Steyn, who is yet to hit his best form, may just be able to cause some problems in Chennai’s batting line-up.

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