IPL 2024: High voltage contest in prospect between Bengaluru and Chennai

With a 62 per cent chance of rain and 37 per cent chance of thunderstorms, the forecast does not look good. Chennai, with 14 points, are comfortably placed. Even a close loss will see them advance.
Chennai's Shivam Dube at practice on Friday (Photo | PTI)
Chennai's Shivam Dube at practice on Friday (Photo | PTI)

BENGALURU: As the Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers arrived at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday evening, they were greeted by typical gloomy weather synonymous with the Garden City. There was not much cloud cover, but at the same time, an eerie stickiness could be felt in the air. Almost as if a precursor to what is in store on Saturday when both teams go up against each other in an unofficial knockout fixture.

With a 62 per cent chance of rain and 37 per cent chance of thunderstorms, the forecast does not look good. Chennai, with 14 points, are comfortably placed. Even a close loss will see them advance.

The hosts need a big win. However, one thing they would appreciate is they have a clear idea of what is required.

RCB fielding coach, Malolan Rangarajan, admitted as much on the eve of the encounter. “The good thing is that it is crystal clear what we need to do. Doesn’t matter if it is a 20-over game or a five, six-over game. For us, it might be 3.1 or 3.4 (the number of overs in which they have to chase to pip CSK on NRR if it comes to that) because there are other intricacies within that. I don’t think we will be spending too much time on whether we need to bat first or bowl first. We will take that as it comes. We have been defending targets, getting teams all out. That is the way I think we will be able to restrict team,” said the former Tamil Nadu player.

Chennai's Shivam Dube at practice on Friday (Photo | PTI)
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What will be a challenge to them is how they can sustain the energy and momentum they have had as a team over the past five games, especially knowing what’s at stake for them. Rangarajan once again said they were not worried. He said that they changed path six games ago, players put their hands up, took ownership and approached one game at a time. And the result is there to see. With Glenn Maxwell coming in for Will Jacks, RCB can only hope that they can do it one more time in front of their home crowd.

CSK, on the other hand, have their share of questions to answer. It has been a very un-CSK-like season. They have had to deal with a significant number of injuries and non-availability of players. It meant the new captain Ruturaj Gaikwad was forced to make changes now and then as they tried to figure out their best combinations possible whether it was with Daryl Mitchell or Ajinkya Rahane or Rachin Ravindra.

Just when it looked like they were settling into a batting line-up, Moeen Ali’s departure for national duty would mean that they would have to change, once again. However, this time, it could be a blessing in disguise. Mitchell Santner could walk, adding more to the visitors' arsenal. Playing Santner and Maheesh Theekshana would, at some level, sort their powerplay bowling, especially against Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis as a negative match-up for the openers.

Apart from the result in itself, there are multiple sub-plots in play. One of them being whether it will be the last match for MS Dhoni should Chennai end up on the losing side. It has been the buzz in the lead-up to the game despite the possibility of a washout. CSK bowling coach Dwayne Bravo let out a laugh when asked if they wouldn’t mind an abandoned game. “Of course… we qualify,” he laughed.

Saturday has all the ingredients for a high-profile contest. The big names, the fan base, the result causing a massive heartbreak either way. One thing the hosts and their fans would be hoping for is the weather to pave the way for the contest to happen.

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