The 14th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is almost over with the prospect of a rematch of the 2012 final when the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) take on the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) .
Both teams compete for a fairytale finish with a win at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday evening. For CSK, the prospect of winning the fourth title in possibly the final season of championship leaders MS Dhoni as captain – or even as a player – is a reasonable comeback after the disappointment that it didn’t make the playoffs for the last time.
For KKR the disappointment was much younger, as in the Indian part of the tournament from April to May after the loss of five of the first seven games threatened to be eliminated. Skipper Eoin Morgan, like Dhoni a front runner with a World Cup title that counts among his accomplishments, warned at the start of the second leg, saying KKR was a team that was « nothing to lose ».
While CSK captain MS Dhoni will compete in his ninth IPL final as captain in 12 editions, Eoin Morgan will make his first appearance in the grand finals as captain. Sportzpics
« We just have to look at it one way – we have absolutely everything under control from here, there is no looking back, » Morgan said ahead of the start of the UAE season. And boy, he was amazing at bringing together a low-confidence team from a dismal start and inspiring them to five wins out of seven, followed by wins over the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and Delhi Capitals (DC) in the Eliminator and Qualifier, respectively 2.
Now all they have to do is beat a team that can be considered frequent fliers, if there ever was such a thing for IPL finals. And a win on Friday will help them turn things around that has rarely been seen in the history of the tournament. Gautam Gambhir’s men performed a similar stunt in 2014 that was repeated the next season by the Mumbai Indians – who ended up winning their second title after losing five of their first six games – is one such incident that mine comes to mind.
Both teams go into the game after exciting final results against Delhi. For CSK, it was Leader Dhoni who came before the formally strong all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, although he himself went through a meager place with the racket. The veteran goalkeeper-batter, considered one of the best finishers of all time, lent his skills to beating players like Avesh Khan and Tom Curran out of the park.
Like CSK, KKR suffered a collapse when he did a humble one Targeted after getting a solid foundation from openers Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill, it took some calm nerve from Rahul Tripathi as he hooked up to a Ravichandran Ashwin half tracker to get him sailing over the long off – Limit for Kolkata to take their fourth trot win.
Dhoni’s return to the old ways along with the way opener Ruturaj Gaikwad and No 3 Robin Uthappa laid the foundation with a 110 run stand was supposed to send out a warning to the KKR attack, especially to their weirdos who were at the center of their recent Sharjah victories by draining the barrels in the middle overs to keep the pressure going. Expect an open fight in the middle overs between the CSK Battern and KKR’s spinners at a potentially crucial stage of the game.
Chennai is expected to maintain its line-up into the ninth final in 12 games, and with Uthappa’s brilliant 63 in the last game, you can expect Suresh Raina to cheer his team on from the dugout again.
Calcutta could only think of all-rounder Andre Russell and the possibility of integrating the Jamaican into the XI should he will regain shape after being forced to miss the last few games due to a hamstring injury.
Morgan and coach Brendon McCullum could be tasked with bringing him in – Narine’s recent form makes him somewhat indispensable, leaving Shakib Al Hasan the only one other alternative. Shakib was thrifty in both the middle overs and added the finishing touches to Kolkata’s chase alongside Morgan in the Eliminator.
All of this, however, could be more than made up for by Russell’s lusty punches in the slog overs and his practical bowling skills alone, if he can regain his rhythm.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Eoin Morgan (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Karun Nair, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathy, Shubman Gill, Harbhajan Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Kuldeep Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Pawan Negi, M Prasidh Krishrier, Shivam Dube, Tim Southee, Vaibhav Arora, Varun Chakravarthy, Andre Russel, Ben Cutting, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sheldon Jackson, Tim Seifert.
Chennai Super Kings : Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, KM Asif, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, N Jagadeesan, Karn Sharma, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravindra Jadeja, Ruturaj, Shardul Thak ur, R. Sai Kishore, Moeen Ali, K. Gowtham, Cheteshwar Pujara, Harishankar Reddy, Bhagath Varma, C. Hari Nishaanth.
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Hazlewood, 30, was the choice of the CSK bowlers in their four-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in IPL Qualifier 1 on Sunday
« It’s about the belief of management, owners in the squad. I was really disappointed after last season. We owe it to the franchise to give the fans a better performance, » said Bravo after the game.
KKR had an imposing target of 193 and hit 165 for 9 in their 20 overs, with Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer hitting 51 and 50 respectively.
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