Today at IPL 2021, it's Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings. Buckle up!
You'll find ball-by-ball commentary here in English, and here in Hindi. If you're in the USA, you can watch today's Delhi Capitals vs Sunrisers Hyderabad game on ESPN+, in English, as well as in Hindi.
CSK 2, RCB 0
With 11 balls to spare, CSK finish off the chase, making it look easier than it perhaps was. Their depth is allowing them to always attack when in a bind. They are now top of the table again, and a top-two finish is getting further away from RCB, who are now at 10 points from nine games. Still favourites to make the playoffs, but after the start they had, they'd have liked a top-two finish. This is all from us today. RCB have those middle overs to thrash out when they went from 90 for 0 in 10 overs to 156 for 6 in 20. Thanks for joining us.
No tight finishes
Close your eyes. Think CSK losing two quick wickets in a chase. What happens next? Consolidation, take the game deep etc. This season has been different. CSK have gone out and built a squad that has enough depth to give them cover for wickets lost when counterattacking. So on a slow pitch assisting spin, with three spinners in the opposition, the right-left combination of Rayudu and Moeen has attacked the spinners. Rayudu has taken apart the offspinner; in fact he hit the first ball he faced for four. Moeen has hit two sixes off the legspinner. No nervous finish. CSK 112 for 2 in 13 overs, need 45 from the last seven.
Spin to win?
And just like that, we are watching a different game outside the Powerplay. Gaikwad gone to a superb catch by Kohli off Chahal, du Pless top-edges a sweep of Maxwell, brought on for the left-hand bat Moeen. Twenty-two for two in 19 balls since Powerplay. CSK need 86 in 65 balls.
Excellent start for CSK
They have raced away to 59 for 0 in six overs, which is four more than what RCB managed in theirs. What's more? CSK know they need to get just 157 whereas RCB were batting to score 200.
Another interesting event during the Powerplay: umpire Anil Chaudhary called a no-ball on the field. Earlier in the match, too, they checked the no-ball on a couple of wicket balls. My educated guess is that perhaps the storm has put paid to the technology that gives the third umpire instant replays?
Devil's three 6s for RCB
The last 10 overs have brought RCB 66 for 6 after 90 for 0 in the first 10. CSK got the conditions right, changing their pace up and bowling hard lengths, but how much pressure were the RCB batters put under by their openers? Kohli faced 41 balls for a strike rate of under 130, and Padikkal went 50 balls for 140. Everyone who followed was under pressure to hit big from the first ball. Then again, we don't quite know the conditions as well as those two do. Perhaps it was a little too slow? Perhaps dew will change all that?
Thakur takes two in two
But therein could be some hope for RCB that the pitch is slow. One of those wickets, though, is massive. AB de Villiers. Gone for just 12 off 11. The next is Devdutt Paddikal, caught at short third man ramping a slower bouncer, for 70 off 50. Thakur won't get a hat-trick ball as his spell is done: 4-0-29-2. The pitch might be slow, but RCB can't afford to fall apart. A ~160 target can take the pitch out of the equation. Also there is likely to be dew.
RCB 150 for 3 in 18 overs thanks to Glenn Maxwell's six off Dwayne Bravo.
A perfect Kohli innings
For the opposition, that is. There remains a rider that this could be a slow pitch but other than that CSK will be happy with Kohli's effort: 41 balls (a third of the innings) faced for a strike rate of under 130 and doesn't go into the phase where he can be lethal and make up for this strike rate. Gone for 53 off 41. Also perfect field placement: Jadeja at long-on is almost cow corner, a particularly prolific area for Kohli.
RCB will be hoping the batter replacing Kohli, AB de Villiers, can still do what Kohli does at the death: strike at close to 200.
Slower pitch or RCB getting stuck
After scoring 55 for 0 in the fist six, they have scored just 54 in the next six without losing a wicket. Is the pitch slower than we expect a typical Sharjah pitch to be? Or are RCB under-aiming? The odd ball from Jadeja has gripped here so don't be hasty in criticising the RCB intent. RCB 109 for 0 after 12 overs.
RCB have taken 55 for 0 in the Powerplay with no spin bowled. A refreshing thing to see was the amount of risks Kohli took to hit early boundaries, and he managed to hit five in 21 balls. This is his fifth-best Powerplay, Ask Cricinfo tells us. Hazlewood was the pick of the bowlers, bowling that hard length and getting some extra bounce from possibly the wet patch Dhoni talked out. He bowled half the overs in the Powerplay for 40% of the runs.
A case for Jadeja to bowl early?
We know Dhoni is not big on match-ups, but Ask Cricinfo tells you that Kohli's record against spin inside the Powerplay is not great. A strike rate of under 100. Now that might have been enough for some captains to replace Josh Hazlewood with Imran Tahir's especially since Kolhi legspin has bothered him of late. As things stand, Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali are the two spinners at Dhoni's dismissal, but he won't give Kohli an offspinnerm, will he? He might not give him Jadeja either, but it might be worth a try.
RCB 18 for 0 in two overs.
Who is Tim David?
As you wait for the start, here is some suggested reading on RCB's debutant. First up Umar Farooq tells you who he is
When did he return to Singapore? David was always eligible to play for Singapore, as the country of his birth. And then a combination of factors convinced him to return.
As he explained to ESPNcricinfo, after playing for the Scorchers in 2018 and then having a rookie contract for 2018-19 with Western Australia, David did try to continue playing in Australia. But after Western Australia delisted him in April 2019 and then the Scorchers didn't offer him a contract, David returned to Singapore.
His international career began soon after, with the T20 World Cup qualifiers in 2019.
As such, David had never played cricket in Singapore, having left the country with his family when still a child. The connection with the country had remained, though, as the Davids travelled to Singapore more than once for their holidays.
And then there is Alex Malcolm on his CPL
"He's got no fear," Griffith told ESPNcricinfo. "I was watching the Caribbean Premier League the other day. The second ball he faced in the competition he smacked someone over cover for six.
"He watches the ball really hard. He doesn't lift his head when he hits it because he knows he's got the power to do what he needs to do. I think that's a big part of his success. And he's starting to get a reputation. And once people start to get a reputation bowlers start to tighten a little bit and that's part of it as well.
"I hope he learns a lot of things. He will be able to watch AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli bat at training and how they prepare and all our batting group, Glenn Maxwell as well."
CSK will chase
We have finally had the toss 30 minutes after the scheduled time because of the storm. A big toss to win as Dhoni says there are some "wet patches" on the pitch. The delay should have given it time to dry out. And they will dry out. So the first few overs could be difficult to bat if the bowlers hit the hard lengths.
CSK are unchanged, but RCB have made two changes: Navdeep Saini in for Sachin Baby, and Tim David, man with two first names playing his first IPL match, for Kyle Jamieson. That's what you get for dismissing your captain again and again in Tests.
Match starts in 15, which is 6.15pm local time and 7.45pm India time. So 15 minutes, and no overs, lost.
Royal Challengers Bangalore D Padikkal, V Kohli (capt.), 3 KS Bharat (wk), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 PWH de Silva, 7 TH David, 8 NA Saini, 9 HV Patel, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 YS Chahal
Chennai Super Kings team 1 RD Gaikwad, 2 F du Plessis, 3 MM Ali, 4 AT Rayudu, 5 SK Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 7 RA Jadeja, 8 DJ Bravo, 9 SN Thakur, 10 DL Chahar, 11 JR Hazlewood
Captain vs mentor
It's the match you have all been waiting for. The captain and the mentor of the most-followed World Cup side going against each other in the tournament that matters, the IPL. So big is the match it has resulted in a massive storm. And you know how these desert storms are. The toss has been delayed by 10 minutes so that you can go search "Sachin + Tendulkar + desert + storm" on YouTube.