It will be MS Dhoni vs Virat Kohli when Chennai Super Kings (CSK) take on Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the big game on Saturday at Dubai.
CSK suffered a shocking loss chasing 168 against KKR. They were in command at one stage, having reached 99 for 1 after 12 overs. However, things went completely haywire for them from that point as they only managed to reach 157 at the end of 20 overs.
RCB were tamed by Delhi Capitals in their previous game. Their bowling was taken to task by Marcus Stoinis, while the batting failed to withstand a strong DC bowling line-up.
In the head-to-head record, Chennai have a 15-8 lead over RCB. But RCB has an edge on current form. With CSK and RCB all set to get into battle mode, here are three player contests to keep an eye on.
#1. Shane Watson vs Navdeep Saini
After a disappointing start to the tournament, CSK opener Shane Watson has rediscovered his touch in the last couple of matches. He was at his lethal best against Kings XI Punjab, destroying the bowling en route to his unbeaten 83, which came in an undefeated stand of 181 with Faf du Plessis.
Watson continued his good form with a half-century against KKR. It should have come in a winning cause, but the later batsmen could not take the team home after his dismissal.
CSK’s crumble after Watson was dismissed against KKR should be a hint for RCB to target his wicket. Navdeep Saini has blown hot and cold in the tournament, but he does possess the ability to get key wickets.
Saini has the pace to trouble Watson, but needs to get his accuracy right to scalp his wicket. Watson has been caught out playing late on the ball a number of times this season, a weakness that Saini can look to expose.
#2. Devdutt Padikkal vs Shardul Thakur
RCB opener Devdutt Padikkal is having an impressive debut season. In five matches, Padikkal has scored 178 runs at a strike rate of 131.85. Padikkal has crossed the 50-run mark three times, which is a highly impressive conversion rate. His ability to hit over the top in the first six overs makes him an asset to the team.
Padikkal must look to convert his fifties into bigger scores, as his highest score as yet is 63. Even so, RCB will be extremely pleased with Padikkal’s consistency.
Shardul Thakur’s entry into the CSK playing eleven has made a massive difference to the team’s fortunes. In three matches, he already has five wickets to his name. He dismissed KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran against KXIP, and added the scalps of Shubman Gill and Andre Russell against KKR.
Thakur has had the tendency of being expensive in previous seasons, but seems to have learned from his mistakes this time around. Not only has he been highly accurate, but has also used his slower ball variations to great effect.
#3. AB de Villiers vs Karn Sharma
With Virat Kohli struggling for consistency, AB de Villiers has taken it upon himself to deliver the goods for RCB. In five matches, de Villiers has smashed 155 runs at a strike rate of 176.13. Twice, de Villiers has crossed the fifty mark, batting in his trademark style.
His blazing 51 from 30 made a big difference in the game against SRH, while his 24-ball 55 against Mumbai Indians was another sensational effort, featuring four sixes. De Villiers’ big-hitting prowess, especially at the death, is a massive plus for RCB.
Leg-spinner Karn Sharma made his first appearance in IPL 2020 for CSK against KKR, and made an instant impact. He dismissed Nitish Rana and Sunil Narine and gave away only 25 runs. Sharma has some good variations in his armoury, which were on display against KKR.
Against de Villiers, though, Sharma will have his task cut out. The former South African captain is one of the best players of spin in the world, and will look to unsettle Sharma. If that happens, Sharma's resolve will be tested for sure.