CSK play RCB as KKR desperate for win against SRH

Bengaluru: Chennai Super Kings will be expected to shrug off a rare loss and effectively seal a play-off berth against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.
Defending champions CSK, who lost to SRH in the previous game for only their second loss this season, will get to 16 points with a win at the Chinnaswamy and it should be enough to guarantee a place in the top-four.
Their leader M S Dhoni missed the game against SRH due to a stiff back but will probably be fit for the game on Sunday.
“Probably he will play in the next game against RCB,” stand-in skipper Suresh Raina had said after the loss to SRH. Following the tournament opener between CSK and RCB in Chennai, both teams have had contrasting campaigns. While CSK have lived up to their reputation again, RCB continue to under-perform. No doubt, RCB will be fired up after the win against KKR at Kolkata on Friday night when they finally managed to defend despite a brutal assault from Andre Russell and Nitish Rana.
It was only their second win in nine games in the season so far though they it still kept them mathematically alive in the tournament. RCB could also take a cue from a similar situation in 2016 when they had lost five of their first seven games, but ended up in the playoffs after winning six of their last seven matches.
In the absence of indisposed AB de Villiers on Friday, Virat Kohli took it all upon himself to post a big total and in the process scored his first century of the season.
With AB expected to be back, RCB will be aiming to please their loyal fans with a victory at last on their home ground. On the other hand, a top-heavy Sunrisers Hyderabad will look to tame an Andre Russell-reliant Kolkata Knight Riders in a high pressure clash of the Indian Premier League here on Sunday. Both teams have eight points though SRH have played one match less. The hosts snapped their three-match losing streak with a win over table leaders CSK and KKR now need to do the same having lost their last four games.
The race to play-offs is heating up and both sides know the value of a win on Sunday.
A rampaging Russell and Nitish Rana almost pulled off a miraculous win on Friday night after the KKR top-order left them with too much to do in the death overs. Russell even questioned the team’s decision to send him lower down the order when the likes of Robin Uthappa struggled.
There is little doubt that the KKR think tank will be working overtime to get back to winnings ways. The hosts too have concerns of their own, mainly their over-reliance on openers David Warner and Jonny Bairstow, who will be leaving at the end of the week to join England’s World Cup. When the opening duo has fired, SRH have done well but on other occasions the middle-order has let them down. The World Cup-bound Vijay Shankar is due for a big score and so is captain Kane Williamson. However, Bairstow defended the his team’s middle-order batsmen.
“We have got some fantastic players in our middle-order and David and I have done a fairly good job at the top. There are players who are in the World Cup team. Yusuf Pathan’s records speak for itself. There is a reason why they have done so well in the last couple of years,” said Bairstow. (PTI)

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