Bengaluru: To his fans, he is ‘Thala’ and to his teammates, he is ‘Anna’, ‘Bhai’ or skipper. To his opponents, he’s one of the deadliest finishers of the game, a nightmare for bowlers, a cricketing brain bar none. Mahendra Singh Dhoni personifies Chennai Super Kings. He’s the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of the team in yellow. At 41, the battle-hardened veteran is probably in the last lap of his career, but he still commands devotion — from his fans — and respect from everyone else, no matter the venue. The M Chinnaswamy stadium — Royal Challengers Bangalore’s fortress — is no different. On Sunday, the eve of the much-awaited southern derby of this season’s IPL, excitement had reached a crescendo. That this could be Dhoni’s curtain call at this venue and the teams play each other only once this season has only added to the exhilaration. The last time the teams met at this venue in 2019, the hosts clinched a one-run victory in a humdinger. Dhoni almost snatched a CSK win with a blistering, unbeaten 48-ball 84. Much has changed on either side of the Attibele border since. Virat Kohli is not leading the home team, none of the bowlers who orchestrated the win are part of RCB’s set up, Moeen Ali, then an RCB all-rounder, is now an integral part of CSK. The men from Chennai don’t come into this match as defending champions. Faf du Plessis, their opener three seasons ago, leads RCB now. Also missing are Dwayne Bravo, Suresh Raina and Shane Watson, all key players. Away from the din surrounding the contest and its back stories, the teams are focussed on climbing the points table. CSK and RCB are placed sixth and seventh in the 10-team fray. With two wins each and an equal number of losses, they are separated only by net run-rate. They have both had convincing wins and heartbreakingly close defeats. CSK have arrived here, wounded in more than one way. They lost their previous game by three runs to Rajasthan Royals at home. Dhoni is nursing and managing a knee injury, while Sisanda Magala, Ben Stokes and Deepak Chahar are already side-lined. Buoyed by their success against Delhi Capitals on Saturday evening, RCB will hope for their bowlers to be on the dot again. Going by the pitch that is being rolled out for the contest, pacers are likely to have an edge. The last match played on this surface witnessed a sweeping performance by the pacers, but that was Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy match against Chhattisgarh.
News Source: https://m.timesofindia.com/city/bengaluru/rcb-have-slender-edge-over-dhonis-super-kings/amp_articleshow/99545163.cms