Two of India’s greatest captains face off in Match 35 of IPL 2021
Although RCB and CSK were level on points at the start of the second phase, the two teams’ fortunes have sped away in completely different directions. While the Men in Yellow pulled off an incredible comeback win over the Mumbai Indians, Virat Kohli’s men were annihilated by the Kolkata Knight Riders.
CSK are currently placed second in the IPL 2021 points table and could leapfrog the high-flying Delhi Capitals with a win. Meanwhile, RCB are one rung below in third and could keep themselves firmly in contention for a top-two spot if they manage to beat their eternal rivals.
It won’t be easy for RCB, though. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, they were completely outplayed by the three-time champions. Ravindra Jadeja’s late blitz and magical spell saw CSK coast to a thumping 69-run win. RCB have to banish the demons of two painful defeats – to KKR and CSK – if they are to find some momentum in the second phase of IPL 2021.
IPL 2021: RCB in search of decisive win while CSK aim to effectively seal qualification
RCB captain Virat Kohli is in an indifferent run of form
The biggest problem with RCB is that they just don’t turn up on some days. When they lose, they lose horribly. Their net run rate of -0.706 is the worst in the competition, although they’re placed third with five wins in eight games.
In the previous game against KKR, the batting lineup failed miserably. After Devdutt Padikkal and Virat Kohli were dismissed in the powerplay, there was little to no resistance from the middle order. AB de Villiers was outfoxed for a golden blob; Glenn Maxwell scratched and swiped his way to a 17-ball 10; Sachin Baby, Wanindu Hasaranga and KS Bharat barely showed any glimpses of batting ability.
RCB might consider bringing in Tim David, who has been in rip-roaring form in white-ball leagues around the world. If they don’t consider fielding the Singapore-born maverick, the quartet of Padikkal, Kohli, De Villiers and Maxwell need to do the bulk of the run-scoring.
While the bowling attack looks decent on paper, it has flattered to deceive in IPL 2021 so far. Now without Washington Sundar, RCB are short of bowling options and variety, with two leg-spinners complementing three right-arm pacers. Unless Harshal Patel can return to his Purple Cap-claiming form, the three-time finalists might be in for a long day in the office against a deep CSK batting lineup.
Meanwhile, CSK have an injury concern in the form of Ambati Rayudu, who was struck on the arm against the Mumbai Indians. If the 36-year-old doesn’t recover in time, Robin Uthappa could walk into the playing XI. CSK will also welcome the return of Sam Curran, but whether the Englishman immediately slots into the team at the expense of Josh Hazlewood remains to be seen.
Otherwise, MS Dhoni has all bases covered – a deep batting lineup, six bowling options who are capable of providing breakthroughs and, most importantly, momentum. CSK are known to be relentlessly consistent when they’re on a roll, and a typically ruthless performance could be on the cards if the likes of Faf du Plessis and Moeen Ali make their first significant contributions of IPL 2021’s second phase.
This will be the first match at Sharjah, which produced high-scoring games last year. The chasing team might have the advantage, especially if dew sets in. While the conditions are a bit of an unknown, it’s safe to say that a batting-friendly wicket could serve as a great leveler.
It’s impossible to pick between CSK and RCB, even though the two teams enter this game on the back of contrasting results. Virat Kohli’s form is a big talking point, and RCB will have the edge if their captain turns up against one of his favorite opponents. But if CSK can see the back of Kohli early, they can be backed to make it seven wins out of nine.
Prediction: CSK to win Match 35 of IPL 2021