The second face-off between IPL heavyweights Bangalore and Chennai may go to the wire with last season’s finalists aiming to keep their winning momentum going after a stuttering start.
While Daniel Vettori’s men will try hard to add to their hat-trick of wins, expect the yellow shirts to spring a few surprises.
The last time the two teams met at the M Chinnaswamy stadium (on May 22, 2011), Bangalore cantered to an eight-wicket victory with two overs to spare, thanks to Chris Gayle’s unbeaten 75 after Zaheer & Co restricted Chennai to just 128.
Cut to IPL 5 and Chennai skipper Dhoni will only be too happy to bat second. Their superb chase of 206 against Bangalore a fortnight ago was orchestrated by South African Francois du Plessis as he nullified the combined thrust of Gayle, Mayank Agarwal and Virat Kohli.
With Kohli bowing to the law of averages after a fine international season – he has just one score above 25 so far – Dhoni will focus more on the foreign threats posed by Gayle and AB de Villiers. The Jamaican and the Pretorian hit the headlines in all of Bangalore’s four wins with de Villiers accumulating 228 runs at a strike rate of 164.
Gayle, who missed out on Monday against Rajasthan, has an even better total, smashing 250 with 19 sixes from his six knocks. Add to this the threat from Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Du Plessis too is gunning to seize the Orange cap from Ajinkya Rahane and can do so if he scores 32 or more. Bangalore boys KP Apanna and Vinay Kumar will be hoping to retain their places in the XI, though Vinay Kumar conceded 37 from his full quota against Rajasthan.
However, the unassuming left-arm spinner Appanna commanded respect from his rivals led by Rahul Dravid and gave away just 19 off four.
The home fans will be praying that Gayle regains full fitness by Wednesday and together with de Villiers help their favourite side to pay back Chennai. The only dampener may be the summer rains, with the met men predicting showers.