After 59 matches of gruelling action, overwhelming emotion, striking drama, close finishes, big hits, clever moves, excellent performances and most importantly, good cricket, two teams remain. Two teams who have won the trophy the most no. of times. Two teams who have reached the final most no. of times. Two teams who have the most no. of fans, two teams who are the two best teams in the whole of the Indian Premier League.
In a way, it kind of makes sense. Both the 3-time champions battling it out to find out once and for all, who is the better team. Here I would like to look at some patterns. CSK won in 2010, and won in 2011 as well making them the only team to successfully defend an IPL title. They won last year. Can they defend the trophy again? The numbers sure do make a case for them. As for MI, they have an even better argument. 2013 they win. 2015 they win. 2017 they win. 2019 they…… MI have won the IPL every alternate year. This year they have reached the finals. Can they add another trophy to their cabinet? We’ll just have to wait and see.
MI have a lot going for them in this clash. They clearly have the superior team. I think they could even put an international team going to play the World Cup to shame. They literally have all bases covered. Rohit Sharma and Quinton De Kock open for them. While De Kock has been the top run scorer for his side and has had a highly impressive season, Rohit on the other hand, has not lived up to his name. But his recent form has been better than his form right at the start of the season with a fifty to his name in the clash against KKR. So that’s a plus point. The same goes for Suryakumar Yadav. Who had been dissatisfying until his innings against that match against KKR. He did one better in the Qualifier 1 against CSK, where he was the Man Of The Match for his knock of 71. It would be an understatement to say that he is in serious form.
The No.4 position just shows the quality of the MI side further. They have the option to choose other players over the West Indian big hitter who won the West Indies team many-a-matches single-handedly known as ‘Junior Gayle’. They have the option to sit out the Man Of The Series Of the 2011 World Cup, the man who hit six sixes off six balls, Yuvraj Singh. In the last match, they went with the youthful Ishan Kishan. Now in this game, I myself would go with Yuvraj Singh. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m reading Yuvi’s autobiography right now, but I have really started appreciating him as a player. Besides, his experience might come in handy in such an important clash. But maybe MI do not want to make any changes which would also be fine as it would give their players more confidence.
Coming to the lower order, that is just unbelievable. Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya. These three give Mumbai immense flexibility. They never stuck to one batting order. Whatever the situation might be, these 3 can adapt. That is what makes MI the side that finishes the best. Seeing a team with such a great batting lineup, you would not expect their bowling lineup to be as good. And it isn’t as good. It’s better.
The rightful owner of the tag of ‘The World’s Best Bowler’ Jasprit Bumrah is within their ranks. Along with him a revamped Lasith Malinga 2.0 is also supporting him. The ever-improving all-round Hardik Pandya completes their pace trio. The spin trio is not as impressive looking or nearly as star-studded. But if you think that they are less able, think again. Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya, and Jayant Yadav can give any international batsman a run for his money. Chahar especially has had a breakthrough season. He has impressed with his abilities to get important wickets.
After looking at that good a side, the CSK side will not be able to match up with it. Faf has been leading the batting attack in the later stages of the tournament while Watto hadn’t fired till the clash against DC yesterday. Raina and Rayudu have both disappointed and are the cause of CSK’s middle order woes. All the disappointment up the order has been covered up because of one man and one man only. Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. The crew of the movie ‘One Man Army’ should have chosen Dhoni to play the lead. He certainly has played that role for CSK. If the Dhoni Of IPL 2019 can turn up at the World Cup, then India are walking away with the trophy.
The bowling is actually the backbone of the Super Kings. Here too, there are just 2 people who have been handling it all. Deepak Chahar has given a start which can only be dreamt of in every game. He hardly leaks any runs in the powerplay and takes at least a wicket to never let the batsmen get going. But the true recipient of CSK’s reason for reaching here has to be Imran ‘Immy Bhai’ Tahir. He has effected 24 dismissals and if he can get one more against MI on Sunday then he will snatch the purple cap right out from the hands of Kagiso Rabada, and win the prestigious award for the first time.
There is one more thing. Whenever Mumbai Indians have played a final, MS Dhoni has been behind the stumps. In 2017, Dhoni’s Rising Pune Supergiants had lost to the Mumbai Indians by one run. Will the horrors of that defeat come back to haunt him?
To win finals you need to hold your nerve. For that you need experience. And experience CSK have in abundance. But MI have the quality on their side. Also they beaten CSK in all the 3 previous clashes between the two this season. So they will definitely be more confident. So I think MI can paint Hyderabad blue this year and carve their name on the trophy for a record fourth time.