The clash of titans

The clash of titans

Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings - it's a clash between irresistible force and immovable object. 

It’s only fitting that two of the most consistent teams in the league and two most successful teams in the history of the Indian Premier League will be up against each other in the grand finale here at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium on Sunday. With both having emerged champions thrice, the winner of the contest will become the team to have the highest number of titles.       

Mumbai and Chennai have this envious quality of staying focused in the present. In a format which doesn't allow many chances to come back, this attribute provides the desired impetus to teams’ campaigns.

Despite enduring a topsy-turvy first half, Mumbai didn’t wilt under pressure and produced a clinical show towards the business end to advance to play-offs. In contrast, the Super Kings were the first to qualify but suffered a dip in form in the latter stages of the tournament. But their comfortable win in the Qualifier 2 against Delhi Capitals was a proof of their big-match temperament.

Teams like Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kolkata Knight Riders resorted to drastic changes in plans and combinations when faced with similar situation. But Mumbai and Chennai remained calm and laid more emphasis on stability than tinkering.

The success of the Indian players is the reason behind Mumbai’s dominance this year. Starting from skipper Rohit Sharma, Mumbai have found match-winners in Pandya brothers, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Chahar. They haven’t had a headache in the foreign-player section with veterans Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga proving their worth at crucial junctures.  

The Super Kings’ players have ignored the immense attention on their age. With many on the last legs of their careers, they have enjoyed their time in the middle and the results have been encouraging. Though their style might not be exciting in nature, Chennai haven’t failed to be ruthless.

The final will also witness two interesting skippers at loggerheads. Rohit has always been a clam operator who has this great ability to read match situations and strategise accordingly.  

On the other hand, cricket pundits have run out of adjectives to describe the excellence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy. He may have retired as India captain, but the veteran hasn’t lost his Midas touch as a leader. Apart from his trademark handling of different scenarios with customary calmness, Dhoni has shown that he has remained as effective as ever behind the wickets while rediscovering his big-hitting prowess. He has also backed his struggling players and has reaped rewards from this approach as the likes of Shane Watson and Dwayne Bravo have repaid his faith.

Head to head, Mumbai enjoy a better record against Chennai having won 16 of their 27 clashes and this season Rohit's men they have had wood on Super Kings winning all their three matches, including the first Qualifier. It remains to be seen if Chennai can break the duck this edition. 

Going by the record, the surface here could be batting friendly as three 200-plus totals have been posted this year. As clichéd as it sounds, season 12 is set for a mouth-watering finish thanks to the exciting players on both sides. Fans can brace up for a Pandya blitz, a Bumrah magic, a Dhoni special and hope for a game that lives up to its billing.

DH New Service