IPL: Stage set for epic face-off as RCB and CSK clash for final playoff berth amid rain threat

PTI, May 17, 2024, 12:23 PM IST

Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s fairytale resurgent run will be up against the might of five-time champions Chennai Super Kings and the weather gods when the two sides clash in an epic do-or-die match to decide the fourth and final team for the IPL play-offs, here on Saturday.

Thursday’s washout in Hyderabad meant that Sunrisers Hyderabad joined Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals as the three confirmed teams for the playoffs and the race is now for only one spot with two teams in fray — CSK and RCB.

Boasting of a better net run-rate and more points, defending champions CSK (13 points, NRR 0.528) start favourites at a venue where they have lost to the home side only once in eight matches. RCB has 12 points and a net run-rate of 0.387.

However, what has heightened the drama surrounding the game is the forecast of rain. A washout will take CSK through to the playoffs, while RCB will need to win by at least 18 runs or chase the target with about 11 balls to spare.

The odds are therefore stacked against the home side, which is the most in-form unit in the tournament’s final stretch.

They’ve staged a spectacular comeback, securing five straight wins after enduring a six-match losing streak.

Orange Cap holder Kohli has been in phenomenal form with three fifties in last five innings as he is poised to ignite the field with yet another stellar show.

They will hope that skipper Faf du Plessis is back among runs, having capped single digit scores in his last two outings.

In the middle order, Rajat Patidar and Cameron Green have both showcased compelling form.

Mahipal Lomror and Dinesh Karthik would be looking to make the most out of the Chinnaswamy track, which is typically a good batting wicket.

As for RCB’s bowling, Yash Dayal has been their star, bagging the most wickets this season.

Lockie Ferguson, Mohammed Siraj, Green, and Swapnil Singh face a formidable task ahead.

Will Jacks, who has impressed with the bat, is a part-time spin bowling option. But it will be interesting to see if he is utilised on this track.

For CSK, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been the team’s top run-scorer this season and is expected to give them a fine start.

Fellow opener Rachin Ravindra is also back among runs and he along with Daryl Mitchell will be expected to lift the top order.

They will hope that Shivam Dube gets back into his rhythm. He has failed to score in his last four outings.

In bowling, pacer Simarjeet Singh and Tushar Deshpande have done a neat job after they missed their premier trio of Mustafizur Rahman, Matheesha Pathirana and Deepak Chahar.

The inspiring presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni will continue to be a factor for the side but it remains to be seen how big a role he is able to play given some nagging injury concerns.

Teams (from): RCB: Faf du Plessis (c), Glenn Maxwell, Virat Kohli, Rajat Patidar, Anuj Rawat, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Suyash Prabhudessai, Will Jacks, Mahipal Lomror, Karn Sharma, Manoj Bhandage, Mayank Dagar, Vijaykumar Vyshak, Akash Deep, Mohammed Siraj, Reece Topley, Himanshu Sharma, Rajan Kumar, Cameron Green, Alzarri Joseph, Yash Dayal, Tom Curran, Lockie Ferguson, Swapnil Singh and Saurav Chauhan.

CSK: Ruturaj Gaikwad (c), Rachin Ravindra, Ajinkya Rahane, Daryl Mitchell, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Sameer Rizvi, MS Dhoni (wk), Maheesh Theekshana, Tushar Deshpande, Shardul Thakur, Shaik Rasheed, Moeen Ali, Nishant Sindhu, Mitchell Santner, Ajay Jadav Mandal, Prashant Solanki, Mukesh Choudhary, Simarjeet Singh, RS Hangargekar and Aravelly Avanish.

Match starts: 7.30 pm.

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