IPL 8: It’s Kohli’s aggression vs Dhoni’s tactics as RCB take on CSK in Qualifier 2

Royal Challengers Bangalore have been perennial underachievers in the IPL. This is the first time in four years that they have made it past the group stage and it seems as if they are on the verge of doing justice to their formidable talent.
After squeaking in to the Playoffs on the final day of the league stage, RCB showed how ruthless they can be in the Eliminator against Rajasthan Royals. Meanwhile their opponents in the second qualifier – Chennai Super Kings – have been surprisingly inconsistent over the second half of the season.
None of Dhoni’s tactics worked against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 1 and MI beat CSK at their own game at the Wankhede Stadium. We also saw a different side of Dhoni in that match. Generally, he is calm and composed on the field but against MI, we saw an agitated version of Dhoni where he had a word or two with the umpires after some of the wide calls did not go CSK’s way. Then in the presentation ceremony, he described umpire Richard Illingworth’s decision to give Dwayne Smith lbw as “horrible” for which he was fined 10 percent of his match fee.
CSK’s worries have increased with the openers not firing and the bowlers, apart from R Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, not contributing significantly. Dwayne Bravo has taken wickets but also gone for runs. The likes of Pawan Negi, Ravindra Jadeja and Mohit Sharma need to step up and provide them support. With lack of good batting options, it seems as if they will stick with the same opening combination. The loss of Brendon McCullum has hurt them and it’s high time the seniors – Suresh Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja make a significant contribution.
The signs are ominous for CSK as it was RCB’s support cast of Mandeep Singh, Sreenath Aravind, Harshal Patel and Yuzvendra Chahal that shone against RR. With the constant threat of the big three – Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli – RCB look a dangerous side and have momentum on their side.
CSK can take some heart from the fact that they have beaten RCB comprehensively on both occasions this season. Suresh Raina’s 50-ball 62 powered them to a win at Bangalore and then it was their bowling unit, lead by Ashish Nehra (4-0-19-3), that helped them defend a mediocre 148 in Chennai.
Faf du Plessis: Earlier in the season Du Plessis wasn’t converting his starts but in the last few games he’s made 45 and 55. Among all the CSK batsmen, he’s the one who’s looked the most assured in the middle. He’s also CSK’s second-highest run-getter so far with 358 runs at 32.54.
Dwayne Bravo: He is the highest wicket-taker in IPL 8 with 23 wickets at 16.04 and Dhoni has relied on him to break partnerships. He has the tendency to go for runs but he can provide wickets at crucial intervals with his clever variations. He can also provide late bursts at the death and he’s been brilliant with his fielding.
AB de Villiers: He is the highest run-getter for RCB (third highest over all with 512 runs), has best average in the tournament (51.20), has the second best strike-rate (176.55) for a player with more than 300 runs. There is not much the opposition can do when de Villiers is in full flow. He was the Man of the Match in the Eliminator against RR for his 38-ball 66. The easiest way to dismiss him might be to run him out.
Yuzvendra Chahal: He bowled a lovely spell of 4-0-20-2 against RR and has hit form at the right time. He’s RCB’s highest wicket-taker with 21 wickets at 18.42. However, he has a poor economy rate of 9.03 and can be a double-edged sword.

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