Super Kings have the edge in final

M S Dhoni will be keen to bring another IPL title to Chennai Super Kings' collection. PTI

After 53 days and 64 matches, the final of the 11th edition of the Indian Premier League is finally upon us.

Banished for two years from the tournament, Chennai Super Kings stormed into their seventh final last Tuesday after edging out Sunrisers Hyderabad in Qualifier 1 in Mumbai.

In a repeat of that clash, the MS Dhoni-led side will run into Sunrisers here on Sunday at the Wankhede Stadium after the Hyderabad side sneaked into the summit clash following Kolkata Knight Riders’ 14-run loss.

Well on course to book their place in the final, KKR’s batsmen suffered an extraordinary implosion, triggered by Rashid Khan, on Friday at the Eden Gardens to leave the packed stadium dejected.

On the face of it, though, it appears apt that the two most consistent sides in the tournament – SRH topped the group while CSK finished second because of inferior net run rate – are fighting for the trophy. Owned respectively by India Cements and Sun TV Network – both Chennai-based enterprises – CSK and SRH have as many similarities as there are differences.

To begin with, both teams were met with two big setbacks right at the start of the tournament. While SRH lost their best batsman and captain David Warner who was suspended after the ball-tampering scandal, CSK had to move their base to Pune from Chennai after just one match due to protests over Cauvery water sharing.

Secondly, both have been led admirably well by their captains. While Williamson is the top-scorer in the league, Dhoni has never looked better in the last four-five years. The two captains’ level-headedness and ice-cool approach even in pressure-cooker situations have bailed out their teams on more than one occasion in this edition.

CSK have largely tided over the wave on the strength of their batting, led by Ambati Rayudu. On the other hand, SRH have had to bank upon their versatile bowling attack to do the job for them. While leggie Rashid has been in stellar form for them, pacemen Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Siddarth Kaul and left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan have been in their elements on most occasions. The way they fought back to snatch victory from KKR’s grasp on Friday night was down to their bowling, led by Rashid who snared three important wickets.         

That said, SRH will have to produce something out of the ordinary to end their three-match losing streak to CSK this season. After becoming the first team to make the cut for play-offs with 18 points, SRH lost four matches on the trot before regrouping well to deliver a knockout punch in Qualifier 2. While the bowling, which had gone astray during four defeats on the trot, recovered well in time, batting looks too fragile if Williamson and Shikhar Dhawan fail to fire.   

Manish Pandey has been a big a let-down and his exclusion from Qualifier 2 mirrored his horror season. The likes of Shakib, Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan haven’t done much either, making the middle-order their weakest link.

CSK aren’t without their share of problems. Their bowling has oscillated between the excellent and the ordinary while ground fielding has been sloppy at times. Dhoni even admitted that with the kind of players (old legs) that he has, it’s the best he could expect them to do but their experience has been crucial to their campaign. Having sat out more than half the season, Faf du Plessis showed it in Qualifier 1 when CSK had all but lost. Dwayne Bravo drove home this point in tournament’s opener against Mumbai while Dhoni has done that on a few occasions.

It will be an interesting battle of contrasting styles between the so-called 'Dad’s Army' and the 'Orange Army.'

DH News Service

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Super Kings have the edge in final

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