*Live blog starts in the comments! Rushing home now, so I’ll log in by 8:15 pm or so! get me updates folks!*

This has the makings of a classic rivalry. I mean, IPL were ever to become a true cricketing contest , and generations passed by, I’d imagine the Bangalore vs Chennai game to be akin to a Brazil vs Argentina or a Liverpool vs Everton or Arsenal vs Tottenham type clash.  There’s that sort of potential in this clash.
Add to that the general junta I am surrounded by here at Bangalore, and the loyalties sure do get split. This is one game that will truly be closer than any other!

Bangalore’s on a high, not surprising when your team’s owned by the liquor baron himself. Chennai, in contrast , is a middling team right now, not sure of it’s identity. It has to play without a talismanic captain, and field a bunch of players most of whom are  are not playing to their potential, or simply not capable of playing for this format.

Form

CSK: L-W-W-L
RCB: L-W-W-W


Bowl-O-Meter

CSK: 2.5/5

There are some good role players, and some journeymen. Murali was admirable in the last game, and one of the only standout bowlers in the squad. He is surrounded by an inconsistent bunch, who’d either put in a disciplined performance or self-destruct.  They open with Morkel, who has been an absolute headache for his own team. With neither the pace and skill of the Steyns and Bond of the world, nor the guile of Vaas and Zak, Morkel has put in a typically sine-wave like performance, controlled in 1 game, and wild in the next. His opening partner role has rotated between Gony, Tyagi , both of whom have been uninspiring.
Balaji has realized his limitations and has been bowling admirably well as a change of pace bowler. Ashwin, the off spinner, started off well, but has fizzed away as the going got tougher.

2 Changes- bring in Ganapathy for Gony, and bring in  Perera for Kemp.

RCB : 3.5/5

What can you say about a disciplined bowling team with a fighter like Kumble leading them? RCB’s bowling attack has been brilliant so far, exceeding my expectations from them. Steyn has been menacing up front,  and his partners Praveen and Vinay kumar  have played their roles to perfection, almost always providing the breakthroughs. Then you have Kumble, who has magnified all his years of experience into his 4 over quota. Kallis and Kohli do their bit, and most importantly, they scheme brilliantly for the opposition. The beauty lies in their subtlity of their preparation. If it’s bouncers for young Indian turks, it’s inswingers and in-cutters for the experienced ones. Pressure from 1 end and variation from the other. Suffocating!

No change

Bat-O-meter

CSK: 1.5/5

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. CSK is a team of 3 batsmen: Hayden, Raina and MSD. The rest of the players are far too unpredictable, undependable, or inexperienced for the game.  Their epic flop show in the game against Punjab did not come as a surprise to me at all, with their batsmen making silly errors and having an affinity for the self-destruct button.  Parthiv and Hayden will continue to open, but it’s Vijay and Badri who have a lot to answer to the team management and fans.  In all probability, they will retain their place simply because there is nobody else in the squad to take their position.

1 change as mentioned before-  Parera for Kemp to shore up the batting and give a bowling option. There is a possibility that they might bring in Bailey instead, and hope for some fighting Aussie mentality and reliability.

RCB: 4/5

Kallis hasn’t been dismissed yet. ‘Nuf said.  He’s the  foundation around which the RCB chase is typically built.  Pandey has been providing quick starts, and Uthappa’s impetus has been a treat to watch. There’s really not much one can do when discussing the RCB batting line up but wax lyrical on Kallis, because the rest have hardly gotten a look. Dravid must be wondering what would have happened to his test aggregate if someone as dependable as Kallis was opening the innings in the 90s and early 00s for India!


Match-ups


For the RCB victory

The RCB strategy appears pretty simple: try to get to bat second when  you win the toss. They seems to be their preferred method. They plan brilliantly during their bowling, and Kallis is in the form of his life. If the target is anything around 160 or less, there’s a high likelyhood that Kallis will stay to finish it off.  They need to account for Hayden , and you do that by opening with Steyn and Kumble. They both have too much quality ,and perfect to counter Hayden. Raina has not been too comfy with the short ball, so he can expect to face a few from Steyn and friends.

For the CSK Victory

Do the exact opposite.  With their anemic batting, CSK might feel that they’re best suited to  bat first, they SHOULD NOT. If you win the toss, put RCB in and hope to dismiss them fast. Even if the target’s big, it might be a blessing in disguise and give their batsmen less time to think and more time to play.  Kallis is the key, and  hence, open the bowling with Murali. Even if Kallis sticks around, Pandey and Uthappa might not be very comfortable with Murali, and might fail, thus exposing the untested middle order of RCB.

While batting, Raina should come 3 down or 4 down, and make the others take some responsibility, perhaps even promote Albie up. The middle and lower order of CSK needs some serious stability.


Prediction

These are my 2 favourite teams for obvious reasons. I don’t wish for either of the 2 teams to lose, and I am not able to support 1 to win over the other. I hope for an awesome game, and hope both split their 2 games in the season :-), and both still qualify for the SF!!

With the form they are in, RCB should take round 1.

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