The weeks leading towards Saturday’s much-awaited big match in the southern peninsula — Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings — was all about getting tickets. And it was not a surprise that the booking portal www.bookmyshow.com closed its online sales early as the IPL contest was sold-out in a jiffy.
As the rival squads gear up for their respective last-round match in the league phase here at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, there is a lot at stake. Besides team fortunes — remarkably fine for CSK and inexplicably lukewarm for RCB — there is also the impending need to strengthen the fans’ unconditional love for a game that has now been tarnished by spot-fixing allegations.
The larger picture cannot, however, cloud the immediate urgency of winning a key game. For CSK (22 pts), it is about staying on top and taking that feel-good factor into the play-offs while for RCB (16), it is about registering a victory and hoping that the results of other matches will help it stay afloat at the fourth spot.
The last time the teams clashed in Chennai, CSK won by four wickets. Since then M.S. Dhoni’s men and Virat Kohli’s outfit have traversed diverse paths.
The batting story seems remarkably similar with a clutch of men guiding the ship — Michael Hussey (640), Suresh Raina (466) and Dhoni (374) for CSK; and Chris Gayle (680), Kohli (578) and A.B. de Villiers (355) for RCB. In bowling, the men in yellow have remained steady while the RCB attack has yielded runs at the slightest hint of pressure.