Placed 6th and 5th in the points table, Chennai and Bangalore go head-to-head aiming to make up ground on the top four after suffering a defeat in their previous match.
Chennai, who have never missed the playoffs, find themselves in unchartered territory, fighting for their playoffs lives, while Bangalore, who haven’t made it to the playoffs since 2016, are desperate to end their barren run.
With both teams desperate to win, here are the key facts from the contest:
Dhoni's abysmal strike rate
MS Dhoni is well-known for the cautious starts to his innings but his incredibly mediocre strike rate in different phases of the game is a red flag for Chennai.
During the 2018 season, Dhoni was striking the ball at a decent strike rate of 105.59 through overs 7-15 which ballooned up to 200.67 in the final five overs. Last season, his strike rate during the middle overs dropped to 98.62 and to 170.7 during the final five.
His strike rate has seen a slight drop in the death overs to 168.88, but through 7-15, it’s dropped to a mediocre 76.47. Dhoni's slow starts put a lot of scoreboard pressure on not just him but the entire team, and while Dhoni the captain is invaluable to Chennai, Dhoni the batsman is expendable and frankly, a liability to the team.
Players to watch out for
Ravindra Jadeja – Chennai
One of the stalwarts of the team, Ravindra Jadeja has had a mixed season so far this campaign. The all-rounder has been struggling with the ball and picked up only three wickets at an economy rate of 9.55. He’s fared better with the bat, however, and is striking the ball at 154.32, significantly better than Kedar Jadhav and MS Dhoni, who have been batting ahead of him. There’s precedent to let Jadeja bat ahead of the duo.
Devdutt Padikkal – Bangalore
Bangalore’s rookie sensation Devdutt Padikkal has taken to the Indian T20 League like fish to water and has been tremendous so far this season. Despite batting alongside Virat Kohli, Aaron Finch and AB de Villiers, the youngster is leading the way with 178 runs in five matches. Devdutt has been holding up one end and allowing the team's other star batsmen to be the aggressors, giving them a much-needed security blanket. Padikkal is in the frontrunner to win the season's Best Young Player award and if he continues in the same vein, he could be up there among the leading run-getters of the season.
Stats to watch out
1: Faf Du Plessis needs just one more catch to becomes the 12th player to grab 50 in the Indian T20 League.
3: Yuzvendra Chahal is just three wickets shy of 200 scalps in T20s.
7: Ambati Rayudu needs just seven runs to reach 1000 for Chennai.
40: MS Dhoni needs 40 runs to reach 4000 in the Indian T20 League for Chennai. He will become only the third man to reach that mark for one team after Virat Kohli (Bangalore) and Suresh Raina (also Chennai).
62: Faf du Plessis needs 62 runs to complete 2000 runs in the Indian T20 League for Chennai.
Bangalore are extremely volatile. They can trounce a great opponent with ease or lose to one of the more struggling sides, making them hard to predict. Chennai are flat-out struggling outside of their opening pair and need to buckle up quickly to salvage their playoff hopes. Bangalore are certainly looking in better shape as of now, making them our pick to win on Saturday.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Sajjad Hussain