Chennai Super Kings will take on Mumbai Indians in what promises to be a blockbuster final of this 12th edition of the Indian Premier League. The clash at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad will pit the two most successful teams in the history of the T20 tournament against each other.
It can’t be disputed that Mumbai go into the final as the favourites, having beaten Chennai as many as three times earlier in the tournament, including in the Qualifier 1 at Chepauk on Tuesday.
However, statistics count for little going into the title fight with both teams being in this situation multiple times in the past.
Rohit Sharma-led MI can certainly take confidence out of the fact that they have won three out of the four finals they have been a part of, including the two against Chennai in 2013 and 2015.
For defending champions CSK, who have entered their eighth final in ten attempts, it has been another remarkable season after last year when they made a triumphant return having served a two-year suspension.
Whatever the outcome may be, the final will add another memorable chapter to the teams’ longtime rivalry.
CSK openers on song
Rohit and Co have dealt with CSK’s spin threat smartly while other teams’ batsmen struggled against the experience trio of Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja.
A big plus for CSK this year has been the form of new-ball bowler Deepak Chahar, who has been consistent with his line and lengths and has picked up 19 wickets so far.
Going into the Qualifier 2, the lack of runs from Shane Watson’s bat was a concern but he regained his touch with a 32-ball 50 against Delhi Capitals in the Eliminator.
Another positive for CSK is the form of opener Faf du Plessis. The South African captain, known for his knack of stepping up in crunch situations, has scored a 50 and a 96 in his last three innings and will be an important wicket for MI to get early on.
Mumbai, on the other hand, will be well rested following a four-day break and backing themselves for a fourth win over Dhoni’s side this season and a fourth IPL title.
Previous meetings in IPL 2019
- When the two sides met early on in Mumbai, Rohit’s men brought an end to the defending champions’ unbeaten start to the season. The star of the show was Hardik, of course, with his power-hitting and crucial breakthroughs with the ball. In what will be a night to remember for the young all-rounder, MI produced a clinical performance to hand CSK their first defeat of the 12th edition. And it was a convincing 37-run defeat at that.
- It was a long time coming, it was not pretty but Rohit Sharma’s first half century of the season helped MI end another CSK streak — this time, their winning run at Chepauk. Mumbai won by 46 runs and managed to keep their incredible record of not losing in Chennai for four consecutive times (a streak that dates back to 2010 for various reasons) while CSK suffered their first defeat at Chepauk since their return. Worth remembering, though, that Dhoni was missing in action in that match.
- The top teams at the end of the league stage met in Qualifier 1 of this year’s IPL. The only defeat Chennai had suffered at the Chepauk up until then was at the hands of Mumbai. And Rohit’s men faced little discomfort in inflicting a second home defeat of the season on Dhoni and Co. Middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav proved his worth by playing an unbeaten knock to take his team into the final as Mumbai extended their stranglehold over CSK.
Head to head in IPL
Overall: Matches – 27, Mumbai Indians – 16, Chennai Super Kings – 11.
Since 2015: Matches – 9, Mumbai Indians – 7, Chennai Super Kings – 2.
In knockouts / playoffs: Matches – 8, Mumbai Indians – 4, Chennai Super Kings – 4.
Key battles to watch out for
- MS Dhoni vs Lasith Malinga / Jasprit Bumrah
He’s arguably the best finisher in the game and they form arguably the best death bowling combo — Dhoni up against Malinga and Bumrah is box-office stuff. Malinga has taken more wickets against CSK than any other bowler while Bumrah dismissed the CSK talisman *once this season already (albeit off a no-ball that did not count in Qualifer 1). With the CSK top-order not having the best season, it could come down to Dhoni and his boundary-hitting ability in the final overs. And if that were to happen, Rohit will rely on his pace duo to come good once again.
- Hardik Pandya vs Dwayne Bravo
They’re responsible for lending their respective teams a great degree of balance and come Sunday, Hardik and Bravo will need to do some heavy lifting. Both the medium-pace all-rounders have similar job descriptions – provide breakthroughs will the ball and a late flourish with the bat, Hardik more so than Bravo. Although Hardik has had a far better season overall than Bravo, you can’t rule out the possibility of the West Indian veteran stepping up when it matters most. Bowling in the death overs, how Bravo contains Hardik might just prove to be a clincher.
- Deepak Chahar vs Rohit Sharma
Chahar got the better of Rohit the last time they met. The right-arm pacer trapped the MI skipper in front during Qualifier 1. Mumbai were rescued that day by Suryakumar but losing Rohit early in the most important game of the season will deal a huge blow to the morale of the team. And Chennai will be hoping Chahar does exactly that. The 26-year-old has taken 19 wickets so far this season, providing his team key breakthroughs with the new ball. He also has the most number of wickets in the powerplay. MI would want their captain to deal with this threat.
Likely playing XIs
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.
Chennai Super Kings: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, M Vijay, MS Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Deepak Chahar.
Match starts at 7.30 pm.
[Inputs from PTI and iplt20.com]
*Clarification: The article originally said Bumrah had dismissed Dhoni twice this season. It has now been corrected.