Chennai: Stopping maverick Chris Gayle will be on MS Dhoni's mind when his side Chennai Super Kings takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 16th game of IPL 6 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Saturday.
Gayle has been instrumental in RCB's early rise in the league table. His two half-centuries - 92* against Mumbai Indians and 85 against Kolkata Knight Riders - did the demolishing act, giving RCB a very healthy net run-rate. Sunrisers Hyderabad surprised Gayle by bringing part-time offspinner Hanuma Vihari early on and the move paid off as he got the prized wicket of the Caribbean destroyer. Dhoni might do the same on Saturday, especially considering how R Ashwin removed Gayle cheaply in the 2011 IPL's first qualifying final and final, both matches that CSK won.
Besides Gayle, RCB captain Virat Kohli too is in impeccable form. In fact, he is leading the chart for most runs - 198 runs in four matches - in the tournament, seven runs ahead of second-placed Gayle and 15 runs ahead of third-placed Dinesh Karthik, who has played one match fewer than the other two. Furthermore, the fit-again AB de Villiers has strengthened the RCB batting, with Moises Henriques providing the team an option with both bat and ball.
If Kohli is leading the batting chart, then R Vinay Kumar is at the top of the list for bowlers. The medium-pacer has picked up seven wickets in four outings and has been the go-to man for Kohli so far, with the captain giving him the ball in the death overs or whenever he needs a breakthrough. RP Singh too has made a good entry for the side claiming six wickets in just two matches.
Chennai tasted victory after starting their campaign with a loss to Mumbai. The team's batting didn't click in the opening game, with only Dhoni making a last-ditch effort to save Chennai's sinking ship. Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay scored fifties in the side's ten-wicket mauling of Kings XI Punjab. But that leaves the remaining batting mostly untested. Considering the experience CSK have, one expects them to come good when the situation arises.
Dwayne Bravo was the pick of the bowlers for CSK against Punjab, getting 3 for 27, while the new South African import Chris Morris too was very effective with 2 for 27. With his ability to hit the ball long and hard, Morris also gives the side an option lower down the order. Dirk Nannes too was excellent with the ball, taking 2 for 17, while Ravindra Jadeja and Ashwin did their job effectively. It will be a battle of equals on Saturday, with the team holding its nerve till the end will come out as winner.
Chennai Super Kings: 1 Murali Vijay, 2 Mike Hussey, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt/ wk), 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Chris Morris, 10 Dirk Nannes, 11 Ankit Rajpoot
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Mayank Agarwal, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 AB de Villiers, 5 Moises Henriques, 6 Arun Karthik (wk), 7 Lokesh Rahul/Murali Kartik, 8 R Vinay Kumar, 9 RP Singh, 10 Jaydev Unadkat, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan