Defending champions Chennai Super Kings take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in what promises to be an engrossing first IPL playoff match in Mumbai on Tuesday.
The first of the two play-offs called qualifier 1, a new format introduced by IPL from this fourth season, offers the winners a direct berth into the grand final on May 28 at Chennai while the losers of the match in Mumbai would get another chance to make amends on May 27. The team that gets defeated on Tuesday would play against the winners of the Eliminator between Mumbai and Kolkata, also to be held here on May 25, in the second qualifier on Friday in Chennai, with the victors of that tie advancing to the final.
Challengers’ comprehensive eight-wicket victory on Sunday in their concluding round robin clash at home against Chennai pushed them to the number one spot on the league table with 19 points.
Super Kings finished second with 18 on a better net run-rate following Mumbai’s stunning last-over victory against Kolkata at the Eden Gardens on Sunday night that put them in third, besides earning them a spot in this year’s Champions League.
The biggest boost for the Royal Challengers since that first meeting in Chennai has been the arrival of the marauding West Indian opener Gayle. Gayle has stunned all bowling attacks with his audacious shots to garner a whopping 511 runs in only nine games at an incredible strike rate of nearly 190. Gayle, Virat Kohli (444 runs in 13 games) and AB de Villiers (262 in 13) are the three major batting threats for the Super Kings.
On the downside is the fact that once Gayle falls early, as it has happened on the rare occasion, the Bangalore batting loses its way with other Indian players like Tiwary and Kaif not having had enough opportunities to settle down.
Bravo, who too arrived late to bolster Chennai and Albie Morkel have not got sufficient chances to bat long which was to their team’s disadvantage after the loss of four early wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The Super Kings bowling has been spearheaded in excellent fashion by Doug Bollinger (15 wickets) and off spinner R Ashwin (16 wickets) who kept even Gayle quiet initially.
These three bottled up the Super Kings’ progress by reducing them to a poor 24 for 2 and despite a superlative knock of 73 in 40 balls by captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chennai’s tally fell far below a competitive score.
The cheap send-offs of leading run-getter Michael Hussey (429 runs in 12 games), Murali Vijay (334 in 14), Suresh Raina (357 in 14) and the dependable S Badrinath (362 from 14) upset Chennai’s apple cart on Sunday. They would be eager to void this sort of rut in the return clash.
Dhoni’s pyrotechnics have not only fetched the Indian skipper 341 runs but also given the Chennai innings the final flourish, but he had to play the role of the anchor as well as destroyer on Sunday after the early clutter of wickets.
Morkel too has done well with a haul of 15 wickets though he has been a bit expensive and the team would be hoping Bravo hits the straps in this department to give it more teeth.
Date TIME Match Teams
May 24 08:00 pm Qualifier 1 Bangalore vs Chennai
May 25 08:00 pm Eliminator Mumbai vs Kolkata
May 27 08:00 pm Qualifier 2 Winner Eliminator vs Loser Qualifier 1
May 28 08:00 pm Final Winner of Qualifier 1 vs Winner of Qualifier 2