In what promises to be a blockbuster clash between two of Indian Premier League’s biggest powerhouses – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings – the bragging rights will be up for stake as the two sides meet in the final that will take place in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Billed as the ‘El Clasico’ of the IPL, two familiar foes will clash for the fourth time this tournament. Having claimed the top two spots in the IPL standings, MI and CSK’s performances have impressed one and all.
CSK’s ‘Dad Army’ proved detractors wrong again after clinching the title last year while MI bounced back from a disappointing season.
It can’t be disputed that MI go into the final as the favourites, having beaten CSK as many as three times this tournament including in the Qualifier 1 at Chennai on Tuesday.
However, statistics count for little going into the title fight with both teams being in the situation before multiple times.
Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai can certainly take confidence from the fact that they have won three out of the four finals they have been part of, including the two against CSK in 2013 and 2015.
For three-time champions CSK, who will play their eighth final, it has been another remarkable season after their triumphant return last year having served a two-year suspension.
Whatever the outcome may be, the final will add another memorable chapter to their longtime rivalry. Both sides have had contrasting journeys, where they will take on each other in the finals for the fourth time.
Here is a closer look at their route to the finals:
|Lost to DC by 6 wickets in Mumbai|
|Beat RCB by 8 runs in Bangalore|
|Lost to KXIP by 8 wickets in Mohali|
|Beat CSK by 37 runs in Mumbai|
|Beat SRH by 40 runs in Hyderabad|
|Beat KXIP by 3 wickets in Mumbai|
|Lost to RR by 4 wickets in Mumbai|
|Beat RCB by 5 wickets in Mumbai|
|Beat DC by 40 runs in Delhi|
|Lost to RR by 5 wickets in Jaipur|
|Beat CSK by 46 runs in Chennai|
|Lost to KKR by 34 runs in Kolkata|
|Beat SRH by Super Over in Mumbai|
|Beat KKR by 9 wickets in Mumbai|
|Beat CSK by 6 wickets in Chennai [Qualifier 1]|
A comprehensive win against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the last league game of the season propelled Mumbai Indians to the top of the IPL table with 18 points, that included nine wins and five defeats. They then outplayed Chennai Super Kings in their own den in Qualifier 1, to reach their fifth final.
Known to stutter at the start every season, this year was no different for MI as their campaign began with a loss to Delhi Capitals at home. With their bowling proving to be ineffective at one stage, they slumped to sixth after two losses in their first three games.
But they got their act together soon after, clinching five wins in their next six games and since then, Rohit Sharma and Co have never looked back.
A major reason behind MI’s incredible turnaround this season can be put down to the scintillating form of Hardik Pandya. Back from an injury, the Baroda all-rounder has produced wonders with the bat, scoring 386 runs at average of 48.25, With a sensational strike-rate of 193, Pandya is just behind KKR’s Andre Russell in the tournament.
It has been an incredible journey from once scampering to make the playoffs to landing right at the top.
Chennai Super Kings
|Chennai Super Kings|
|Beat RCB by 7 wickets in Chennai|
|Beat DC by 7 wickets in Delhi|
|Beat RR by 8 runs in Chennai|
|Lost to MI by 37 runs in Mumbai|
|Beat KXIP by 22 runs in Chennai|
|Beat KKR by 7 wickets in Chennai|
|Beat RR by 4 wickets in Jaipur|
|Beat KKR by 5 wickets in Kolkata|
|Lost to SRH by 6 wickets in Hyderabad|
|Lost to RCB by 1 run in Bangalore|
|Beat SRH by 6 wickets in Chennai|
|Lost to MI by 46 runs in Chennai|
|Beat DC by 80 runs in Chennai|
|Lost to KXIP by 6 wickets in Mohali|
|Lost to MI by 6 wickets in Chennai [Qualifier 1]|
|Beat DC by 6 wickets in Vishakhapatnam [Eliminator]|
Reaching eight finals in ten years is no easy feat and if there’s one IPL team who are known for their consistency, it is CSK. Barring the two year spot-fixing ban that was imposed on them following the 2012-’13 season, the Yellow Brigade have now made it to the playoffs for each of their 10 seasons.
Finishing second in the IPL standings after comfortably leading at one point, CSK underwent a longer route to the finals. They were dismantled by MI at home in Qualifier 1 but their experienced trumped a young Delhi Capitals in the Eliminator.
Their journey to the final was markedly different from MI. CSK began their title defence in handsome fashion, winning six of their first seven games. However, the ride during the business stages of the season was quite bumpy with several of their experienced players failing to hit top gear.
With skipper MS Dhoni missing a couple of games, they lost momentum – winning just three from their last seven matches – and dropped to second due to an inferior run rate.
Apart from Dhoni, the veteran spin duo of Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir have played a major part in their campaign with 24 and 16 wickets respectively. Uncapped pacer Deepak Chahar has also impressed, picking up 19 wickets.
With PTI inputs