You can easily call this a battle between a man and a machine!
Chennai Super Kings are like that well-oiled unit that just doesn’t stop. And they are up against a player who has taken the Indian Premier League by storm. Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori may say that it’s not just about Chris Gayle, but it’s a reality that the West Indian has taken RCB single-handedly to the final of the Indian Premier League.
There’s always been an aura of uncertainty about Gayle, but it seems a thing of the past now. The West Indian is playing with a single-minded determination to show the world that he is good enough for international cricket and the rivals are bearing the brunt.
It happened to Mumbai Indians on Friday night and MS Dhoni knows that if Gayle gets going again on Saturday, their hopes of defending the title will vanish into thin air.
And it goes without saying that CSK’s thinking will centre around Gayle. Their star offie R Ashwin got the West Indian out in the first play-off and Dhoni is likely to throw the ball again to him on Saturday. The off-spinner will use his variations of flight and try to keep him guessing so that he doesn’t get the necessary momentum right from the word go. And CSK know that if they can frustrate Gayle, it may not be too difficult to take his wicket and that is bound to put pressure on RCB.
Once Gayle is out of the way, all the other factors that have taken CSK so far can take over. The Men in Yellow know how to operate in the middle-overs in these conditions at the Chepauk where they have won seven matches in a row. The spinners — Ashwin, Shadab Jakati and Suresh Raina — will look to take the pace off the ball and the RCB batsmen are bound to feel the heat.
“When we built this team, we had the home conditions in mind. Our spinners have done a wonderful job right through the tournament and I have the belief that they can do it once again on Saturday,” CSK coach Stephen Fleming said.
The coach knows that spin is one department where they are head and shoulders ahead of RCB. Under these conditions, any team would need at least two quality spinners (if not three), but RCB have only one in the form of Vettori. The lack of depth in the spin department can hurt RCB, but Vettori indicated that he is not too keen to change the playing XI. “The team has settled down well. I don’t think there’s too much need to make changes,” Vettori said, indicating that it’s unlikely he will take chances with inexperienced players at this stage of the tournament.
The fatigue factor, too, will make things a little difficult for RCB. While CSK had beaten them on Tuesday to ensure a three-day rest, RCB didn’t know till late Friday evening that they will be playing the final. Recovery is an essential element in any sport and Vettori knows that CSK will be well-rested and all charged up for the final.
But then, there’s something called the winning momentum and he will feel they will that from Friday’s performance. It’s for Dhoni’s men to stop that and take the smile off from Deepika Padukone’s face!