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Cricket news - Familiar foes meet on unfamiliar grounds

Can RCB, for the first time ever in the history of the tournament, do the double over their Southern nemesis?

Can RCB, for the first time ever in the history of the tournament, do the double over their Southern nemesis?

Even the back-door is closing now on the Chennai Super Kings. It had been left enticingly ajar until Friday. If they could bite a bullet and stay alive, it may have ushered them closer. Instead, CSK gathered another unwanted record this season: their first 10-wicket defeat in IPL history. Add that to the quirk of 2020 with the soundtrack of the digitised crowd gasp.

The sambhar, on the other side, is sweeter. The Royal Challengers's demolition of KKR has put them in a three-way tussle for a top-two finish. It's not just that RCB's momentum that has been so significant this season, but the sense of a clear system and a plan. They have been astute with their tactics and haven't shied away from its use even at the risk of a backfire. The roaring success of the Mohammed Siraj move was only the latest in a series of well-orchestrated gambits that suggest they might just end up somewhere near the front of the pack, but they still do have to face the other two contenders, Mumbai and Delhi, in the run-in.

This Sunday's clash, despite the divergent fortunes of the teams, offers intrigue. Often there is a shiver of anticipation when these two sides meet, simply because of the sheer contrast the juxtaposition throws out. The personalities of the protagonists (read Kohli and Dhoni) and their ideologies have made for recurring narrative lines and also to a case study in a book. In a significant upend this season, it is RCB who are on top, have a settled balance and somewhat tellingly, use spin better: 23 wickets at 7.06 ER vs 14 wickets at 9.11 ER.

CSK though still hold one record. They've never lost two league games in a season to their southern rivals. In line with MS Dhoni's 'playing for pride' sentiment, holding on to this record may just bring a semblance of normalcy at the pointy end of this most abnormal of seasons for them.

When: Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings, Match 44, October 25, 14:00 Local, 15:30 IST

Where: Dubai International Stadium

What to expect: There has been an inversion to the bat-first doctrine so prevalent in the first half of the tournament despite the pitches getting tired. The last four games in Dubai have seen chasing teams succeed. David Warner revealed that dew was setting in the second innings allowing the ball to skid on better. Despite this being an afternoon fixture, teams wouldn't mind fielding first given the slight dip in temperatures in late October. There is forecast for a comforting breeze that'll blow across the ground in the afternoon.

Team News:

Royal Challengers Bangalore

RCB are unlikely to change their XI. If at all, they will only look to make a tactical change and bring in an extra all-rounder in Shivam Dube. But given Siraj's success and the possibility of swing playing a factor, that will be a left-field move.

Probable XI: Aaron Finch, Devdutt Padikkal, Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers (wk), Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Chris Morris, Washington Sundar, Isuru Udana, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Yuzvendra Chahal

Chennai Super Kings

CSK will need to start building for the next season and that means the team's youngsters will not have the burden of the result to show their spark. There will, however, be the pressure of retention and release hanging over some players' heads. Stephen Fleming confirmed that KM Asif and Mitchell Santner will feature in discussions and could get a go against RCB.

Probable XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Ambati Rayudu, N. Jagadeesan, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Sam Curran, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur/KM Asif, Imran Tahir, Josh Hazlewood/Lungi Ngidi/Mitchell Santner

Scenarios: Can CSK still qualify?

Their chances hang by the thinnest of threads. They currently have only six points from 11 matches and can take it up to a maximum of 12, should they win all their remaining fixtures. They play RCB on Sunday followed by games against KKR and KXIP on Thursday and the next Sunday respectively. If they lose one more match they stand eliminated as they will reach only a maximum of ten points. Three teams are already on 14 points with at least one among KKR/KXIP/SRH sure to reach a minimum of 12 points.

If CSK wins all their three matches to come, they will need the results of other sides in contention to go the following way to qualify:

- RR lose at least one of their three remaining matches

- The winner of KXIP-SRH game on Saturday (24 Oct) lose at least two of the three remaining matches

- The loser of KXIP-SRH game lose at least one of the three remaining matches

- KKR should lose at least three of the remaining four games

Did you know?

- This will be CSK's first afternoon game of this season. RCB have won both their afternoon games this season, each time against the Rajasthan Royals.

- RCB's Economy Rate of 7.84 this season is second only to that of Mumbai Indians' 7.81. CSK concede their runs at 8.50 RPO.

- In IPL history, Kohli (837 runs at 128 SR) is the leading run-getter against CSK and Dhoni (803 runs at 144 SR) is the leading scorer vs RCB.

What they said:

"It is the southern Derby. There is never a team in the IPL which is a cake walk. They all have very good players and world-class finishers. No game is easy, na...na...na, that's not how cricket works. CSK are a very successful team with quite a few IPL trophies. There is a reason for that. We have to be at our best to beat them." - Chris Morris is not a subscriber to the theory that two more points are already in RCB's bag.