IPL: Last play-off spot at stake as RCB, CSK make a dash

SRH already in play-offs after washout in Gujarat; rain-threat looms over Bengaluru as well

Can MS Dhoni's CSK do it again? (photo: PTI)
Can MS Dhoni's CSK do it again? (photo: PTI)

NH Sports Bureau

It’s the south Indian derby of Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) which set the IPL 2024 ball rolling nearly two months ago. As they square off again at the former’s home ground on Saturday in a virtual knockout game, the rain gods may have a few plans.

Last night, Sunrisers Hyderabad were the biggest beneficiaries of their abandoned match against Gujarat Titans on the latter’s home turf as they became the third team among the elite four with 15 points from all 14 matches. While Kolkata Knight Riders are ensured of the top spot with Rajasthan Royals following, the battle is now between five-time champions CSK (14 points in 13 matches, NRR +0.528) and RCB (12 points in 13 matches, NRR +0.387),

RCB, finally sensing a chance after five back-to-back wins in the second half of the season, must win the game tomorrow, though there are thundershowers forecast for Bengaluru. CSK, on the other hand, might still qualify even if they lose, albeit by a smaller margin, to RCB or even if points are split.  

Speaking ahead of the match, West Indies batting great Brian Lara put his money on RCB. "Well, it is not just form. I mean, RCB has a five-match winning streak right now and no other team has done that this year. They have Virat Kohli, who is in hot form, but the most important thing is that other players are also playing their roles well, which is important for the team’s success," he said.

‘’RCB has never won the IPL and they seem to be hungry to win it. This match will help them reach the play-offs. This is a great opportunity, the team's form is good, there is hunger to win and senior players like Du Plessis, Siraj and Virat are also performing well. Then the younger players are coming in, they will miss one or two, the ones who have left. But I believe RCB's momentum as we have seen till now, it will keep taking them forward in this tournament. I have seen them playing live, against CSK, they will definitely win.’’

The upward curve in RCB’s performance has not gone unnoticed, but then the thundershower and gusty winds forecast makes it anybody’s guess as to whether the match will be played at all.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that the Chinnaswamy Stadium has an excellent drainage system, being one of the few grounds in India with a subsurface aeration system which allows play to begin 30 minutes after rain stops. A truncated game, however, may make RCB’s job tougher in their pursuit of the elusive IPL title.

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