All eyes are firmly set on match number 35 in the Indian T20 League between Bangalore and Chennai in this year's first match at Sharjah. Both the teams have had contrasting results in their respective first matches in the UAE leg of the competition. While Bangalore were completely outplayed by Kolkata, Chennai registered a comeback from behind win over Mumbai. Although the South Indian derby looks set to be an intriguing clash this year, here is an attempt to choose between the teams based on the given factors:
1. Head-to-head record
It is the MS Dhoni-led side who have a superior record in this particular fixture. Overall, the sides have faced each other 27 times in the Indian T20 League. While Chennai have been on the winning side in 17 of these matches, Bangalore have won 9 such matches. A solitary match has ended without a result.
Even in their side's most-recent outing which happened earlier in the season, it was Chennai who had registered a win, thanks to all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja's dream day out which saw him smash five sixes in the final over of the Chennai innings before picking wickets and taking catches. Kohli & Co were outplayed in this match.
2. UAE factor
Last year in UAE, the teams had played two matches with Bangalore and Chennai winning one game each. However, both the matches were played at the Dubai International Stadium. As the action shifts to Sharjah this time, one wonders which team it will benefit the most. While Bangalore have the likes of Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers for whom no boundary is long enough, Chennai also have the likes of Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and Moeen Ali who are no alien to six-hitting either.
However, Dhoni loves operating with the spinners on which could be an issue at this venue with short boundaries.
3. Form of players
Bangalore were blown away by Kolkata the other day and it would be very difficult to judge their batting form on a day when their collective batting failed. However, Chennai have the plus of Deepak Chahar (if fit), Ruturaj Gaikwad as well as Dwayne Bravo. They are also expected to be strengthened by the addition of Sam Curran. Faf has been in good form too as he showed in Caribbean T20 League and it could only be a matter of time before he starts firing.
For Bangalore, who might still be coping with Kohli's decision to step down as leader at the end of the season, a lot will rest on the star's performance with the bat perhaps the spark they need to go all the way this season.
But for now, considering the abovementioned factors, the team of the day is Chennai.