The course of IPL will change this weekend. The return of AB de Villiers and shifting of playoff venues from Pune to Kolkata, could completely change the face of the game. IPL is halfway through its matches, bringing Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab at the top of the points tally.
On the other hand, Rohit Sharma led Mumbai Indians is still struggling while Shreyas Iyer, the new young captain who replaced Gautam Gambhir is helping Delhi Daredevils build pace again. Rajasthan Royals are still in the topsy-turvy but they could bounce back. The team that has been playing with some of the best batsmen in the world, Royal Challenges Bangalore has had a shaky start. After giving up Chris Gayle in the auction, who is in top form this season, the team found out that AB de Villiers is injured.
Ahead of their match against CSK, the team received good news. De Villiers has now been declared fit by the doctors. He was suffering from a viral fever and has recovered just in time for the big match. The 34-year-old is the second most successful batsmen for his team in this season. He has managed 280 runs with an average of 56 runs per match.
His top scores come from a match against CSK, signaling that he knows the Chennai bowlers well and could easily score more runs for his team in the next match as well. The Super Kings must also be feeling the heat of his return, as the explosive batsman has frequently destroyed several top-notch bowling attacks single-handedly.
Quinton de Kock, the wicketkeeper-basemen of the team has flown back home for a wedding. So, de Villiers will be taking his place in the team for now, before he returns for a match with Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday.
Former New Zealand spinner and head coach Daniel Vettori said, “AB is back fit, Quinton is away from this game. Quinton has returned home for a wedding so he is unavailable for this match so probably it’s an easy decision for us to make.”
In another news, playoff venues earlier scheduled in Pune have now been shifted to Kolkata. IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla announced that at least two games in the playoff, the Eliminator and Qualifier 2, will now be played in the City of Joy. The change is because Chennai Super Kings shifter their base to Pune because of security concerns. Therefore, the venue could not host the matches anymore.
Eden Gardens gladly accepted the change with Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) joint-secretary Avishek Dalmiya suggesting that they are looking forward to the matches. The first qualifier of the tournament will be held on May 22 in Mumbai. The final will also be played there on May 27 at the Wankhede Stadium.
With these changes ahead, it is likely that RCB could make a comeback in the game, probably fighting for the third or fourth spot on the points table. Chennai now needs a solid strategy to beat him and keep him off strike, if nothing else.