Tonight we will witness an epic match-up between MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings and Chris Gayle’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second qualifier match, where the winner will see the right to play in the Pepsi IPL 2015 Final.

CSK ended the league stage impressively sitting in first place and were first of the IPL teams to qualify for the Playoffs. However, the Super Kings have to play a second qualifier as they were unable to beat the Mumbai Indians in the first qualifier which saw Mumbai progress to the Final.

Royal Challengers Bangalore have showed an impressive tail end of the season winning six of their last eight completed matches just missing out on a top-two finish. They cleared the first hurdle in clinical fashion, getting the better of Rajasthan Royals by 71 runs in the Eliminator, and will be aware they are two steps away from lifting the IPL trophy for the first time.

The Chennai Super Kings will be missing their big hitter Brendon McCullum, and will need their biggest match-winner over the years Suresh Raina, to take the stage and steal the show.

When we look at the head to head history between the Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore we see a match record of 11-7 in favour of the former. Even the recent record between the two teams is tilted in favour of CSK, who won both their league fixtures against RCB this season.

The Chennai Super Kings also have an edge over the Royal Challengers Bangalore when it comes to their last-four stage matches. We have seen RCB win their semi-final against CSK before in 2009. However, CSK got the better of RCB in the next two occasions in Qualifier 1 and in the Grand Final in the 2011 season.
Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers have consumed 68.5% of the overs batted by the team between them and have contributed to the extent of 71% of the runs scored by the RCB batsmen. However, CSK have in their ranks two deadly bowlers Dwayne Bravo and R Ashwin. These two bowlers have dismissed Chris Gayle more often than others in Twenty20 cricket. Bravo has dismissed the left-hander on five occasions, while Ashwin has seen off Gayle on four occasions. But, Gayle is still yet to face either Bravo or Ashwin on the cricket pitch, having missed both of RCB’s league games against CSK.

The second qualifier match will be held at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium, in Ranchi. Both teams have a 50% record in IPL matches in Ranchi. CSK have won two of their four IPL matches at the venue, while RCB have won one of their two IPL fixtures at the venue. However, Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings have never won a match played on 22 May; they have so far played two matches on May 22nd, but have lost both (Vs. RCB in 2011 and Vs. SRH in 2014).

The average first innings total in IPL matches in Ranchi is 151. 4 of the 6 IPL matches at the venue have been won by the team chasing. Spin bowlers have accounted for 30 of the 58 wickets to have been picked up by bowlers in IPL matches at this stadium. Meaning this will be in the favour of spinners like R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi and will most likely be at the forefront of the Chennai Super Kings plans. Ashish Nehra will be expected to prise out the dangerous top order and set the stage for the spinners to work a web around the RCB middle order.

The winner of this match will progress to play in the Pepsi 2015 IPL Final on May 24 held in Kolkata to take on the Mumbai Indians. As for the loser of the match, it will be the end of their 2015 IPL campaign and will hope to come back a stronger outfit next season, go the distance and take home the silverware in 2016.