Royal Challengers Bangalore v Chennai Super Kings
Sunday April 21, 15:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)
RCB waking up too late to stay long
The Royal Challengers withstood an Andre Russell assault to beat KKR by 10 runs on Friday. It may be an academic victory as RCB cling on to their faint play-off hopes by a knife-edge. Virat Kohli said that his side were filled with confidence ahead of taking on CSK but, even if they continue in winning ways, they still need other results to fall right for them.
RCB are a very strange side, capable of the sublime and also the mediocre in near equal measure. Kohli's leadership of the side may not be tactically sound but it is passionate, Moeen Ali has delivered and, when fit, AB de Villiers is a star with bat in hand. To be genuine contenders thay have needed some of the lower profile men to hold their hands up. That has rarely happened.
Dale Steyn returned to the RCB line-up after nine years away from the Bangalore side and made a difference with two wickets, despite a final over where Russell gave him some tap. Steyn definitely adds experience and skill with the new ball, which is much needed in a squad that has been very low in confidence. Steyn's presence has got to inspire his fellow seamers.
CSK waiting on Dhoni fitness
CSK are hoping that MS Dhoni will be fit to play after the IPL's captain fantastic missed the defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad. With the World Cup around the corner Dhoni was reluctant to risk his India one-day future after suffering back spasms. Consequently, it may be wise to leave MSD off your betting slips.
If Dhoni is unfit the vastly experienced Suresh Raina will lead a side that needs at least two wins to guarantee a play-off berth. That success is no surprise to a franchise that has never missed out on a last four IPL spot.
CSK have been superb throughout the first half of the tournament but trophies are won at the competition's end, not the start. So far my initial concerns over whether some of Chennai's leading men were a bit long in the tooth have proved largely unfounded. But with Dhoni injured, Raina struggling for his usual consistency and nobody any younger, I'm still with Mumbai Indians or the Sunrisers to triumph this season.
This is a game that RCB skipper Virat Kohli will be even more determined to win that usual. Kohli and CSK captain MS Dhoni are the two most famous Indian cricketers of their generation, MSD taking the baton from Sachin Tendulkar and still avoiding passing it on completely to Virat. It is impossible to comprehend the level of support and mayhem they experience on a day-to-day basis. This is a face-off where something has to give.
CSK top the standings with nine wins from their nine games played. RCB are exactly the reverse and bottom of the pile. Yet the momentum seems to be shifting as RCB finally find another gear and CSK show their vulnerability. A defeat spells the end of Kohli's men and he won't want Dhoni to be the man that orchestrates his demise, even if it is from the physio's bench.
If Kohli is going to get his wish he has to go against recent trends for this encounter. CSK lead the head-to-heads 16-7, but even more worrying for potential RCB backers, CSK have won the last seven games straight and 11 of the last 13. RCB are the price play in this one at [2.16], particularly if Dhoni remains an absentee. Without their talisman CSK are not the same side.
I previewed RCB's latest win and picked Moeen Ali as a value play to be top batsman. A superb Virat Kohli century edged Moeen Ali into second but that doesn't prevent me from going with Moeen again. ‘Kohli is the best batsman in the world' I hear you shout. He is, but Moeen is enjoying a great IPL and he's a streaky player and worth backing when as hot as he is now. He may not land but he's the right play at 11/2, rather than Kohli's skinng 15/8. Thanks to Virat though as his ton landed the century to be scored bet and, on that surface, it's a bet worth having again at 15/2.
I love finding a way of betting in a T20 match that lasts the duration of a game and always gives you a sniff of winning. Man of the Match markets provide tasty prices and your pick has the entire game to land the punt for you. In this game I'm playing half-stakes on two players – Moeen Ali at 14/1 and Imran Tahir at 11/1.