Pune: Their batsmen are in top form but Chennai Super Kings would look to plug the bowling loopholes when they take on a struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore in a key IPL game between the southern rivals on Saturday.
The Virat-Kohli led RCB, who edged out Mumbai Indians by 14 runs in their last game, will be eager to avenge their five-wicket defeat at home against the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Super Kings, who too will be keen to swiftly get back into the winning mode after suffering two defeats in their last three games.
For the star-studded RCB, the clash is a must-win encounter if it has to stay alive in the tournament and qualify for the play-offs. While RCB are in the fifth spot, having won three of their eight matches, CSK are still in a comfortable position in second position with six wins from nine games.
The yellow brigade seems to have settled down well in its adopted home and has lost only to the Mumbai Indians here after shifting base after their first game in Chennai. But that comprehensive eight-wicket defeat against MI on April 28 followed by the six-wicket hammering by the Kolkata Knight Riders last night has shown chinks in the CSK armour, especially in bowling.
The Chennai batsmen are on song and most are among runs with Ambati Rayudu, Australian Shane Watson, West Indian Dwayne Bravo, skipper Dhoni and Suresh Raina contributing when the team needed. Rayudu, especially, has batted well both as an opener and at number four, scoring 391 runs so far.
If CSK decide to continue with South African Faf Du Plessis and Watson at the top, then Rayadu will again bat down the order. Dhoni, who remained unbeaten yesterday, has reminded his critics that he is not past his prime and if he hits those towering sixes again tomorrow, it will pose a danger to the RCB attack.
Chennai bowlers had been generally impressive with Shardul Thakur at the top. But in their defeats against MI and even yesterday, the bowling attack could not defend the scores put up by their batters and appears to be missing the services of injured Deepak Chahar.
The pacers and the spinners led by veteran Harbhajan Singh need to play to potential to restrict a devastating RCB batting line-up, spearheaded by Kohli. RCB too have some batting woes to overcome with only Kohli performing consistently, amassing 449 runs in nine matches.
They will be eager to put South African batsman AB de Villiers, who has scored 280 runs in six games, back on the field. He has missed out games due to fever. These two batsmen are crucial to RCB's hopes. They also require Quinton de Kock (201 runs in 8 games) and Brendon McCullum (122 runs in 5 games), who are yet to play to their potential, to chip in.
Even the likes of Mandeep Singh (204 runs in 8 matches) and Kiwi Colin de Grandhomme (45 runs in 3 matches), will need to get going if the CSK bowlers are to be tamed. RCB's primary headache has been their death bowling as they have leaked runs in this phase.
Umesh Yadav (11 wickets) and Yuzvendra Chahal (7 wickets) have stamped their class, but Mohammad Siraj and Washington Sunder (four wickets) have performed below par. RCB also have the option to play veteran Kiwi pacer Tim Southee in place of his compatriot Corey Anderson.
Scores of over 160 have been a regular phenomenon at the stadium in Gahunje on the city's outskirts and with two strong batting line-ups squaring off, another high-scoring thriller is on the cards.
Chennai Super Kings: MS Dhoni (C), Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willey.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Virat Kohli (Captain), Quinton de Kock, Brendon McCullum, AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Mandeep Singh, Chris Woakes, Washington Sundar, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Corey Anderson, Parthiv Patel, Tim Southee.