Chennai: Two aggressive and in-form sides will clash in a battle of equals when former champions Chennai Super Kings face Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, here on Saturday.
It would be an even contest as both the teams are coming off big wins. While Chennai thrashed Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets, RCB defeated defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in their previous matches.
Although RCB and CSK seem evenly matched on paper, the presence of Chris Gayle in the Bangalore team could prove to be the decisive factor.
Gayle yet again proved his mettle by striking an 85 not out to ensure a convincing victory for RCB against KKR. Such was the ferocity of the 'Gayle storm' that RCB knocked off the target with 15 balls to spare.
It was the third win for RCB in four matches. The imposing Jamaican, who has been in prolific touch, got his runs off only 50 deliveries hitting four boundaries and as many as nine sixes.
It is therefore hardly a surprise that Gayle is leading the 'Maximum Sixes' list with 14 over-boundaries. With good support from captain Virat Kohli and South African swashbuckler AB de Villiers, Gayle makes the RCB line-up look intimidating.
Chennai's batting also has quite a few good hitters with opener Michael Hussey shining in their previous match. Hussey slammed a blistering 54-ball 86 as Chennai rolled over Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets.
Also in good form is Murali Vijay, who got a fifty in the previous match. The two-time former champions have come back quite strongly after losing their opening match to Mumbai Indians.
Add to this captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, all-rounder Dwayne Bravo, who has been an asset with the ball as well, and Suresh Raina and Chennai's batting line-up looks good enough.
The team management would also want useful contributions from Subramaniam Badrinath and Ravindra Jadeja lower down the order. There is still some suspense on whether South African all-rounder Albie Morkel, who twisted his ankle while bowling in the finals of the domestic Twenty 20 competition in South Africa, would play despite being cleared after precautionary scans.
As expected, Muttiah Muralidharan didn't travel to Chennai with the team, because an IPL directive. On the bowling front, RCB's attack has been delivering the goods despite missing pace spearhead Zaheer Khan. (PTI)