RCB aims for ‘payback’ at CSK’s new den

With the teams in contrasting positions, this IPL game will also be a battle of wits between Dhoni and Kohli.

All was quiet before the impending storm, when two gunslingers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (right) and Virat Kohli (left), come face to face in Pune on Saturday.   -  AP

The heat was scorching and even a light breeze blowing across the MCA stadium did not provide relief. The stands were empty and apart from the odd shouts of encouragement when Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) practised, here, on Friday, silence largely ruled.

All was quiet before the impending storm, when two gunslingers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, come face to face, here, on Saturday. And much like the men from the Wild West, the two are ruthless, quick on the trigger and can cause serious damage.

The cricketing temperatures could rise, further adding to the summer heat. Also, there is bound to be mayhem in the stands if the two explosive cricketers cut loose.

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With their teams in contrasting positions, this IPL game will also be a battle of wits between Dhoni and Kohli. The duel could be stimulating tactically.

Chennai Super Kings (CSK), 12 from nine games, was wounded by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on Thursday, but is within striking distance of qualification.

RCB, six from eight, has to keep winning after having found some momentum and cohesion against Mumbai Indians. There was welcome news for RCB when A.B. de Villiers, recovering from a viral infection, trained with the team. He will play.

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But then, wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, travelling back to South Africa to attend a wedding, will not be available. Brendon McCullum could don the big gloves or Parthiv Patel might be included.

CSK has no problems here. Dhoni is in phenomenal form with the bat and has been typically efficient with the gloves. The team from Chennai, riding on its batting might, has bowling and fielding issues to resolve though.

The dip in Dwayne Bravo’s bowling form has been alarming and the catches spilled, and the misfields have not helped matters either.

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And the CSK attack, without a leader in the pack, could be punished if the destructive Kohli and de Villiers are given any width or length. The bowling has to be in tune with the field.

For RCB, the pacey Umesh Yadav has produced telling inspired bursts and Tim Southee bowled capably at the death in the last game. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal will be a threat.

Dew is unlikely to be a factor in a match starting at 4 p.m., and the surface should encourage strokeplay. This Dhoni-Kohli face-off should be exhilarating.