IPL Finals Preview


We are only few hours away from the final match of the IPL 2010 tournament. On the outset, it looks like a match-up of a team that’s been clicking on all cylinders and another team that has clawed and scratched its way through to the finals, with moments of inspired leadership. The previous two editions of IPL also featured similar matchups in the final games. In 2008, Chennai, which had the best batting line up of all, took on the Rajasthan Royals, who got on a run, motivated by their innovative leader Shane Warne . In 2009, it was the Deccan Chargers led by Adam Gilchrist.

In 2010, Mumbai won 10 of their 14 league matches and crushed the Royal Challengers in the Semifinals and look set to bring home the trophy. Their batsmen have all produced at some point in the tournament, ably led by Sachin Tendulkar, who himself ranks #2 in the list of run scorers, as of today. Their batting has immensely been buoyed by the presence of capable local indian talents of Shikhar Dhawan, Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayadu (of course, in addition to SRT). Add to this mix, Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo. These two provide such balance to the squad as they are also uncanny bowlers, mixing up their slowers and yorkers. Of course, they are electric on the field as well. The Mumbai bowlers led by Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga have routinely provided the breakthroughs and bring tremendous amount of experience. Harbhajan Singh has opened the bowling, which I completely expect him to, today facing an off-color Mattie Hayden. The crowd will also be with the home team. They have looked the most complete team and it has showed throughout the tournament and deservedly, they have grabbed their spot in the finals.

Chennai Super Kings were hanging by the proverbial thread and were in danger of not making the final four. Thanks to brilliant knocks from their middle order and a thoroughly brutalizing finish job by their captain Dhoni against the Kings XI Punjab in their last league game, they found themselves in the semifinals, which they won largely due to a fantastic performance by their bowlers. They have a few issues. Mathew Hayden has not performed for a long while now and has gotten the spot at the top of the order, mainly due to his reputation and partly to the fact that the replacement would be Parthiv Patel. He has seemed too aggressive at the start, which has been M.O. all through his career, but the pitches during this tournament have not been conducive for that. I fully believe Dhoni will keep him up top for the finals and I hope he re-calibrates his approach in the finals and decides to bide his time at the crease before he launches on. M. Vijay has looked in pretty good nick but has not had a big inning in a while. The fact that he has made in to the Indian team for the T20 World Cup (albeit due to injury to Sehwag) will do nothing but keep is confidence high. Raina, Badri and Dhoni have played pretty well up to the point. If Albie Morkel can contribute a bit with bat (if he has to), that rounds up a solid batting line up. The key for Chennai’s batting lies at the top. Hayden and Vijay need to set the platform for their middle order.

Chennai’s bowling, which was its Achilles heel for most of the tournament, has been showing signs of turning it around. R. Ashwin opening the bowling has been a good performer and the arrival of Dougie Bollinger has given Chennai a genuine fast bowling wicket taker they had lacked all the while. Morkel has looked decent, without being very threatening and Jakati has done not too shabbily, as well. The 5th bowler has been a tough choice to make for Dhoni. If the pitch looked to aid spin, he has gone with Murali. But I think if the pitch for the finals looks to help a seamer, Justin Kemp should be brought in. Raina could chip in with a couple too.

However, the elephant in the room is Tendulkar’s split webbing. He seems to think that he wouldn’t miss the finals but it would be tough to perform to his usual levels with 5 stitches in his hand, but I wouldn’t put anything past this man! If Tendulkar does not play, Huge edge to Chennai. If he plays and play well, Mumbai should start the game as favorites. Dhoni has shown his ability to handle big match occasions and has the experience of having played in the T20 World Cup final and the IPL final before (1 win, 1 loss).

If Tendulkar plays:

Batting: Advantage Mumbai (Slightly)
Bowling: Advantage Mumbai
Fielding: Advantage Chennai (Slightly)
Captaincy: Advantage Chennai
Crowd Support: Advantage Mumbai (Huge)
Favorite: Mumbai

If Tendulkar does not play:

Batting: Advantage Chennai (Huge)
Bowling: Advantage Mumbai
Fielding: Advantage Chennai (Slightly)
Captaincy: Advantage Chennai
Crowd Support: Advantage Mumbai (Huge)
Favorite: Chennai (Huge)

________________________________________________________________________

Cricinfo gives the edge to Mumbai based on some statistical facts. Who cares about facts? Not this CSK fan!

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