Durban: It is going to be a battle between Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s spirited leadership and the strategic acumen of experienced Anil Kumble when their teams Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore take on each other in the Champions League Twenty20 semifinal here on Friday.
Both the teams will put up no-hold-barred efforts to win tomorrow’s contest at the floodlit Kingsmead ground here and take another stride to become the first Indian Premier League team to win the show-piece tournament.
Riding on a disciplined performance by the bowlers, the Chennai team yesterday snatched a 10-run win over Warriors, and Dhoni would surely expect an encore when IPL champions take the ground.
Spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who scalped three wickets for just 24 runs against Warriors, and left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger would look for some early breakthroughs tomorrow while in the middle overs Suresh Raina’s contribution with the ball is expected to be crucial.
Chennai spin department would be spearheaded by legendary Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan, while left-arm tweaker Shadab Jakati would have to extend support.
Opener Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay would have to play their role to give the team a strong opening, with captain Dhoni and S Badrinath coming down the 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 but Manish Pandey, who played a fine knock against Lions, is expected to help Bangalore enter the summit-stage.
New Zealander import Ross Taylor, who has played a couple of breezy innings in the tournament so far, and Virat Kohli, would have to live upto the expectation if their team to are to chase down a stiff target.
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 two Kumars - Praveen and Vinay expected to give him a 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.
All in all, both Bangalore and Chennai have their sets of strengths and weaknesses and any one of these two teams, on its given day, can make a difference.