Battle of weak-links: CSK, RCB square off in important mid-table clash

Pune, 3 May: Chennai Super Kings’ fragile bowling vis-a-vis Royal Challengers Bengaluru’s struggling batting line-up put the sides on an even keel as the two heavyweights face-off in an important mid-table clash of the IPL here on Wednesday.
In cricket, when two strong and equally performing teams have a match-up, it promises a great contest but when two sides with specific weak-links are pitted against each other it makes the contest all the more exhilarating.
Sample this. In 10 games that RCB has played so far, only six half-centuries have been recorded and out of them two belongs to skipper Faf du Plessis, which is a testimony to below-par batting show in the tourney.
In nine games that CSK have played so far, there hasn’t been a single bowler (pacers and spinners), who has bowled at an economy rate of less than 7.50 runs an over. The best economy rate is of Mahesh Theeksana (7.54) while Dwayne Bravo (14 wickets) and Mukesh Choudhary (11 wickets) have had poor economy rates of 8.73 and 9.82 runs per over average.
The match also becomes an enticing one as Virat Kohli has finally found some some form going his way and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is back in the saddle and would do everything under his control to plot the downfall of India’s best batter.
Dhoni’s return as CSK skipper replacing an out-of-sorts and more so bereft of ideas Ravindra Jadeja, proved beneficial as they outscored a formidable Sunrisers Hyderabad, keeping their campaign alive with six points from nine games.
While RCB are still on fifth place with 10 points from as many games, they seemed to have lost a bit of momentum with three back-to-back defeats primarily due to shoddy batting shows.
They have been all-out for season’s lowest score –68 — and have also failed to chase a modest target of 145 in another game.
Even in their last game versus Gujarat Titans, Kohli’s 58 off 53 balls was one of the reasons that RCB failed to score more than 170, which was below-par on a good batting track.
In Kohli (186 runs in 10 games) and skipper Du Plessis (278 from 9 games), RCB have one of the scariest of opening pairs but it hasn’t really translated into big performances.
In case of Kohli, his form of late has been so bad that one can’t really blame him for taking his time to score runs.
However, nearly nine of the 20 overs consumed for 58 runs will never be considered as a performance that can help the team.
Young Rajat Patidar, after a below-par last season, has shown some spark but the likes of Dinesh Karthik (218 from 10 games) and Glenn Maxwell (157 from 7 games) perhaps will need to do more than what they are currently contributing.
Especially Karthik, whose form has tapered since he closed in a few chases earlier in the tournament.
On Wednesday, RCB will face a bowling line-up which isn’t an intimidating one with rookie Choudhary or Simarjeet Singh, still trying to find feet in an elite league and the most experienced spinner Ravindra Jadeja having completely lost form due to leadership burden, which he was forced to relinquish.
In such a backdrop, whoever wins will only add to the ‘mid-table muddle’ as most teams between six to 10 poitnts are clubbed together making it an intere-sting next four weeks. (PTI)