Tag Archives: MS Dhoni


Recently I came in possession of a few books on cricket, including a biography and an autobiography. That made me think what the titles would be if some of the Indian cricketers decided to put their lives on print.

Irfan Pathan – I used to be a fast bowler

Ajit Agarkar – Get your ducks in a row

Sreesanth – Show the other cheek, said Jesus

Yuvraj Singh – Mom’s the word

Ashish Nehra – What happens in St. Lucia, stays in St. Lucia

Harbhajan SinghMaa ki See, Maa ki do

Sachin TendulkarGod promise, I didn’t hear it

Sourav Ganguly – Striptease

Rahul Dravid – The Bridesmaid’s tale

MS Dhoni – At the end of the day

Zaheer Khan – Return of the dead

Virender Sehwag – I’m a better clone than Dolly the sheep

Send in your suggestions for VVS Laxman, Gautam Gambhir, Munaf Patel et al. Its open season, folks.

Like This!

Anatomy of a chase

Sri Lanka just wrote the coaching manual on how to chase down a target on a tricky pitch. SL needed to get 144 runs (of the 164 they needed to win the match outright) to boot India out of the T20 World cup. The SL bowlers fought, clawed and yorked their way back into the game after India had scored a swift 90 odd runs in the first 10 overs of their inning and restricted them to just 163 off 20 overs, when a score in the neighborhood of 185+ loomed quite large.

After the initial reverses in the first two overs, the SL batsmen went about rebuilding the innings up. While the captain Sangakkara was digging in for the long haul, Dilshan found the perfect opportunity to get out of his rut to quickly score 30-odd runs which ensured the run rate did not fall too far behind. The scene of the one down batsman causing damage to India after the two dangerous openers have been gotten rid of, rather quickly and cheaply,  gave me the feeling of Deja Vu! Then came, the most crucial partnership of the match, which eventually gave a firm shove to India’s aspirations of sneaking in to the semis through the back door. Continue reading

Captain Crucifixion

India have been unceremoniously bounced out of yet another Twenty20 world cup and there is a lot of blame going around and most of it is gonna be at the feet of India’s captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Being the captain of Indian cricket team is one of the hardest jobs in sports, as the Indian media and fans deal only in extremes – in praise and in condemnation.The demands of the job have consumed some of the best players the game as seen, from Sunil Gavaskar to Sachin Tendulkar, and from Kapil Dev to Rahul Dravid. Now, MS Dhoni is getting a taste of it.

When Dhoni took over the captaincy of the Twenty20 team in 2007, because the senior players had made themselves unavailable, he led a team of mostly young, still fresh on the international scene players to a world cup win. Within a year of that victory, he had become the captain of the Indian team in all 3 formats of the game and has done a wonderful job of it. He has beaten Australia in a test series, in a ODI tournament (in Australia), drew a test series against South Africa and beaten the daylights out of a Sri Lanka team etc., and all this while being named the best ODI cricketer in the world. He has not let the burden of captaincy affect his form with the bat or the gloves, unlike say, Tendulkar. Continue reading

Match Summary: India v South Africa T20 Worldcup

After accomplishing the first step (as easily as they were expected to) in regaining the T20 world cup trophy, India were on to sussing their strengths and weaknesses, against an equally strong South African team, who should be among the top 3 contenders for the cup, on Sunday May 2, 2010. India had a setback before the toss, with Gautam Gambhir declared unavailable due to diarrhea. Also, they rested Zaheer Khan, which meant, India went in with a spin heavy attack and a brand spanking new opening combination (both bowling & batting).

The pitch, similar to other pitches in the Caribbean, was expected to be slow and assist spinners. But due to the early start, there was to be some assistance to the pace bowlers as well. The outfield at the picturesque Beausejour cricket field was lush, which meant its gonna be slow and there is not gonna be much value for the shots and there will be premium put on running between the wickets. South Africa, winning the toss, elected to insert India in, to take advantage of whatever assistance their pace heavy bowling line up could get from the pitch and through the air. Continue reading

The IPL Finals – Running diary Part 2

GOD walks in!!

Read the Part 1 of the running diary on Chennai Innings

Part 2: Mumbai Innings

We all settle back in. Some of the CSK fans, including me, bemoan the fact that they have to root against Sachin Tendulkar. Such are the times!

1.0 overs: Fabulous first over from Ashwin. Not much turn to speak off but he has kept a tight line and has changed the lengths. Keeps Shikar Dhawan quiet. Perhaps, MI plan is to weather the storm early and go after the bowling later? Why? Shouldn’t the idea be that everybody bats around SRT. CSK will always be on the defensive as long as SRT is still in. Shikhar Dhawan needed to be a lot more aggressive. Way too much respect for Ashwin in the first over.

1.2 overs SRT gets off the mark with a single. His bread and butter shot. Flick to the onside. Towards the fine leg area.The stadium erupts. You would’ve thought MI has already won the game.

The viewing junta

1.4 overs Dhawan gets caught behind off Bolly. Too close to cut off a short-of-length ball slightly swinging away from him. Abhishek Nayar (who played 3-4 games the entire IPL, coming back from injury) walks in. One of several missteps by MI in the batting line up.

Usually, I am more tense than I was while watching this run defense by the team I was rooting for. I have confidence in Dhoni to come through in the big match. Plus, Chennai has an above par total, I think. Dhoni did a fabulous job of defending 150+ score against Pakistan in the 2007 T20 world cup final. The CSK fans are delirious. Its still early days, but they don’t seem to care. Especially, Madhu. He is cursing everybody out. He is blaspheming. He is praying for Sachin to fail. He is throwing out his analysis of the situation, some of it is not even relevant but he doesn’t care. As always.

4.3 overs SRT writes the coaching manual on how to dispatch a full toss from a spinner bowled slightly wide of off-stump. Gently, as if not to hurt the ball, he caresses it, while coming on the front foot, with, of course, the head dead still, past extra cover for a glorious boundary. My response to it on twitter.

5.5 overs Please see 4.3 above, only this time, it wasn’t a spinner but a medium pace delivery from Albie Morkel. Hail the Lord please! Reminds everyone why he still holds the court when he is out there. On the inside, wanting SRT to stay out for as long as possible, while also wanting CSK to win. Oh the dilemma!!

The running between the wickets is atrocious but Chennai is yet to hit the stumps. SRT is very alert but Nayar is all over the place. Tries suicidal singles but gets away with it. Prompts Prem Panicker to comment on twitter this. MI innings almost mirrors the CSK innings so far except CSK lost 2 wickets. Pretty even stevens. Can’t pick a winner yet, as MI has lot more batting to come.

6.0-6.6 overs Murali is employed earlier than usual by Dhoni. Murali comes over the wicket. Lately, he has relied too much on the doosra and has been coming around the wicket. Me saying aloud: I hope Murali comes over as SRT has trouble with sharp turning off-breaks and Murali does. Imagine giving myself a pat on the back. Quiet over. Hayden drops a tough catch off Nayar at slip. Sharp turning off-break pitched outside the legstump of the left hander. Dhoni was moving to his right. Hayden was probably blinded for a moment. Still got low and down to get his hands to ball. Hits him on the wrist, can’t pull it in on the rebound. Toughie!

9.4, 9.5 overs Nayar breaks free by hitting Jakati for two sixes. Madhu unleashes a stream of curses at Jakati.

9.6 overs Brilliant effort from Jakati. Nayar takes off for a sharp leg bye. Jakati moves in on the follow-through, picks up and throws underarm at the stumps while airborne. Just missed. Sachin makes it in. Barely! The running between the wickets is getting to hilarious proportions. When are CSK gonna strike?

11.2 NOW!!!!! SRT is absolutely disgusted. Slams his bat on the ground. Nayar is out. Raina bowls a fast one from around the wicket. Nayar plays it to square leg. SRT’s call. Says NO. Nayar too far down the track. Dhoni runs, picks up with the un-gloved right hand, takes a bit of time to line it up and hits the wickets on one bounce. Shows the rest of the team how its done!

Surprise, Surprise!!!! Bhajji walks in ahead of all the renowned big hitters still waiting in the wings. Hmmm.. What is MI’s strategy here. You only have 8 overs and change. You have 4 proper batsmen who can easily clear the park but you went with Bhajji?? CSK fans don’t complain at all.

11.6 After a delicate cut for four by SRT on the 4th delivery, Raina gets Bhajji LBW off the last ball of the over. First look, looked out for me. Sridhar thinks – may be sliding down. I contend that he has shuffled too far. Hawkeye shows its barely missing the top of the stump. Chaitanya, the MI fan, is disgusted with Koertzen’s umpiring. He thinks MI got jobbed there. Of course, profusely interspersing it with curse words.

Hmm… what do they say about things evening out over the course of a game?

13.1 CSK get Rudi Koertzen-ed!!!!!!!!!!!!! Called wide by Koertzen after a brief consultation (nod of head) with the square leg ump. Dhoni and the bowler Raina went up for the appeal (for caught behind) immediately. The batsman is SRT. Given not out. Replays show a definite deviation ofd SRT’s glove. I am sure Chaitanya is not taking any of his Koertzen’s abuse back.

Leads to an immediate discussion about the need for players to “walk” by CSK fans. The pros and cons are weighed. Someone mentions that Sachin always walks and he didn’t here because its the final and his team is in trouble. Immediately, everyone jumps on him that Sachin never ever walks. He lets the umpire do his job. I have no problems with SRT not walking at all. But CSK was robbed. Oh well, we move on!

13.4 Rayadu putting some oomph in the MI innings. After hitting six of the previous delivery, hits an inside out cover drive for a four. The MI fans in the house make their presence felt. Rayadu being the aggressor here and playing around SRT. This should have happened when Dhawan’s wicket fell. 11 overs late. The run rate climbing ever so rapidly.

During this stretch in CSK innings (overs 12-16), Dhoni and Raina got 71 runs off the 5 overs. Can MI duplicate it?

14.2 THE BIG FISH FALLS. Perhaps the stitches on his bottom hand led to the dismissal. Not enough power in to the off-drive as he would have liked. Vijay pulls off the catch very, very calmly and strikes the pose. He did that in the semis too. Way too nonchalant. CSK fans off their seats and going crazy. Pandemonium!!! Personally, I am a little sad to see SRT go. What a player!

No sign of Pollard. Tiwary walks in. Another interesting move. Explanation later given is that MI wanted to get Pollard in after the spinners are done. Oh come on man! Its the god damned finals. You don’t get a second chance.

14.5 Two in the over. Tiwary slogs across the line and Raina pulls off an absolute screamer, running in from the boundary and taking the catch a mere inch off the ground. CSK team mobs him. So far, the fielding and catching is proving to be the difference between the teams!!

STILL NO POLLARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! JP Duminy walks in. Struggles to get the ball off square and the batsmen get singles for the next six balls. Some 2’s too. Finally, JP feels frustrated and tries to dump Murali outside the mid-wicket boundary, does not have enough distance. Jakati takes a great catch, stops his momentum taking him outside the rope by breaking in to an impromptu game of hop-skotch. FANTASTIC. Now, in comes, Mr. Kieron Pollard.

55 required of three overs. 3 runs every ball. Even for Pollard, it seems beyond possible. But that’s why they play the game.

Over #17: Bloody Massacre. As expected, Dhoni throws the ball to Bollinger, CSK’s best fast bowler. First ball goes over the keeper for a 4, off the top edge. Kieron bludgeons Bolly for another 18 runs off the next 5 balls. GAME ON! The boundary off first ball, is followed by a 6 over midwicket, a couple, a sliced four in the third man and tops it off with a ginormous SIX over long on. The ball seemed to be traveling for a very long time, before it settled in the 3rd level of the stadium. This boy is country strong and doesn’t get cheated when he goes for it. Carnage. The 3 Mumbai fans are going bonkers. Chennai fans are truly worried. I am sure all of them are having flashbacks to all the times their favorite teams (Be it CSK or India) have lost from an impregnable position. I am telling Sridhar that this game is still Chennai’s to lose. Even after all the mayhem, the required rate has come down to only 16.5 from 18.

33 required off 2 overs. Albie Morkel is on to bowl.Dhoni adjusts the field. By the looks of it, the instructions are for Morkel to bowl full, and slightly wide of off-stump. Chennai fans relieved that Pollard is off strike.

18.1 overs: precious, precious dot ball. A full length delivery, dug back to Albie by Rayadu.

18.2 overs: Only a single as Pollard refuses the second. Rayadu seems a little miffed but Pollard is not paying any attention.

18.3: DING! You are free to move about the country. Pollard blasts one over the head of the bowler. CSK fans worried, yet again.

18.4: DOT BALL. Full delivery that gets under the bat off Kieron and goes to Dhoni. Excellent keeping by the captain.

18.5: Mad confusion and Rayadu sacrifices his wicket. Actually, he needed to. Not sure why he didn’t push for the second, from the get go. May be, he wanted to be the hero? Pollard was always keyed in for the 2nd run to get back on strike.

A distraught MI dugout

18.6: GAME, SET and MATCH: CSK. Dhoni adopts a totally unconventional field on the off-side. A wide-ish short mid-off AND a straight deep mid-off. This man is as cool as they come. Kieron tries to blast this ball too, a little too full and too wide, ends up scooping to mid-off. Hayden – in a solitary act of doing something to earn his pay for the day – comes around to his right, dives and take the catch with both hands, just off the ground. Bedlam in the desi graduate students apartment. Once again, Madhu loses his cool, breaks out a stream of swears, tells Pollard to suck on his….. popsicle (let’s keep this PG, alright?) and all that. Lots of high-fiving all around. MI fans are distraught. They see the writing on the wall. There isn’t gonna be a miracle tonight.

20.0 Another run out in the 20th over and now the only curiosity is whether CSK will bowl MI out. Thanks a missed catch by Raina, they don’t. Confetti rain, take cover people!

After a long delay for setting up the stage, during which time, MI fans in the stadium pretty much have all left. Not waiting for the awards ceremony. Sore losers? Perhaps! May be it was too late in the night and they have to get to work Monday morning. May be! But I think they knew about Modi’s speech. What a bunch of self-congratulating, Zen+Gita quoting crap that was. Whatever little sympathy he may had with the public, he lost it by that speech. The moment belonged to the Chennai Super Kings and Modi tried one last roll of political dice. That cheap bastard. By this time, we saw online that he has suspended by the BCCI from the post of Vice-President. Whatever.A very long presentation ceremony. All sorts of awards. Medals. Bleh. Finally, they hand the trophy to the Captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2010 IPL Champions: CHENNAI SUPER KINGS!

The victorious CSK huddle


The IPL 2010 Finals – Running diary Part 1

THe IPL Final.. Its ON!

Before the finals, I had the idea of keeping a running diary of the entire match between the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians, for the IPL 2010 trophy. I was told that some of my friends are getting together at another friend’s place, watch the game on the big screen. There were going to be some CSK and MI fans and this ensured there will be good deal of entertainment while watching the finals. Some of the characters that were purported to be watching the game are known to have a very short fuse but very ardent supporters of their respective teams. I reminded myself that I should take pictures and videos of the scenes as they unfold.

Due to a screw-up by my buddy (Darr) who was going to give me a ride, I missed the entire pre-game show. I was looking forward to the AR Rahman show but that did not happen. When I got to the venue, the show had just ended and they were clearing the field for the cricket to start. Here is how the finals unfolded:

T-minus 30 mins: I was one of the earliest ones to get there, so was able to find a comfortable seat and parked myself. It was kind of closer to the wall, which was used as the projection screen. If I had to talk to others in the room, I had to turn my head, 90-120 degrees counter-clockwise. This put a serious dent over the course of 4 hours on my neck. By the end of the game, I had some serious pain in my neck. (You can get an idea of my location based on the angle the pictures were taken from)

Dhoni talks to Ravi Shastri after winning the toss

T-20 mins: Ravi Shastri — Why does he need a microphone, seriously? The man can yell a comatose guyawake from his sleep. He questions the Mumbai crowd, whether they are ready to rock and roll, one last time? Does he know something that we don’t? I mean, its possible, even with all the goodhals going in the IPL, there will be IPL 2010. Or, does he think the world’s gonna end in 2010? I thought it was 2012.The captains are out for the toss. Really, really glad to see Sachin out for the toss. Says, “The hand is feeling fine. Will give my best.” Chennai win another important toss in the biggest game of the tournament.

T-15: All the commentators dressed in dark suits (except for Pommie Mbangwa) look in to the screen and talk to us. Due to the poor quality of audio, cannot really pick up what they are saying, but from their expressions, looks like they are hyping the game up. Found out today from Samir Chopra’s blog that they were quoting Kipling. (“Jungle Jungle pata chala hai, pata chala hai!”)

Hyped up voice men in suits

T-10 to T-0: Since youtube was streaming the direct IPL feed, we didn’t get to see any talking heads spewing out their predictions and analysis. Instead, the (in)actions from T-15 were on a loop. THRICE!!!! By this time, we had 10 people in the apartment to watch the game. 7 CSK fans, 2 MI fans, 1 CSK-fan- but-supporting-MI-for-Sachin (Matter). Promises to be a good viewing experience.

Chennai Innings

0.0 Overs: M. Vijay and M. Hayden walk out to the middle. Sachin has his boys in a huddle. The commentators are freaking out. The stadium is super-packed. At this time, one of the MI fans (Chaitanya) drops some knowledge about the really good looking D.Y.Patil stadium. “Dude, That’s a college ground!” I wish my college had such an awesome cricket stadium. I had mentioned in the preview that Bhajji will open the bowling. Yep, he’s got it. The turbantor. The obnoxious weed, according to Mattie Hayden, has got the ball in his hand, to open for Mumbai. The tension in the room is palpable as all the CSK fans want a solid start from the openers and some signs of life from the corpse of Hayden.

0.2 overs: Bhajji to Haydos — Appeal for LBW. Haydos giant stride outside off, perhaps saved him.

0.3 overs: Another huge appeal for LBW. Stuck outside the line of stumps. Hayden saved by his stride again. Of course, the MI fans complain that Rudi Koertzen has taken money.  CSK fans prepare mentally for Hayden to get out any time.

Very subdued start by CSK. Nothing flashy. Looks like they want to build a platform for their middle order to launch in to it. CSK fans start bitching about Hayden. Hold on boys, its gonna get worse.

2.2 overs: Harbhajan must be wondering what it would take Koertzen to give Hayden out LBW. That looked plumb. The MI fans are losing it. They have already descended to conspiracy theories. Don’t know who is more dead, Hayden or Koertzen!

2.4 overs: Finally, Hayden remembers he has legs AND feet. Comes down the pitch, meets the ball from around the wickets and launches it to the long-on boundary for SIX. Chennai fans forget immediately that Hayden has been sucking pretty much the whole tournament and expect him to go on to score a century or something. The call for the “Mongoose” rings out!

3.2 overs: Brilliant pick up shot for a six by Vijay, who has been quietly rotating the strike and takes the run rate above 5. Someone notes that he looks like Ricky Ponting while playing the shot. Even before he could finish it, someone else comes over the top and quashes it because Vijay does not shuffle as much as Ponting. Bravo!

Hayden continues to struggle. I am tweeting while watching the game. I am wondering, whether it is good or bad for CSK if Hayden got out now. Prempanicker says its very good.

Vijay hits a classy back-foot punch through the cover for a four, Hayden hits one off Malinga and CSK are trudging along. Hmm.. This is gonna put a lot of pressure on the middle order.

5.0 overs: Talk turns towards what’s a good score. I opine that 140 is a pretty good score as the pitch has something for the bowlers and has shown during the semis that batsmen can’t just go for big shots from the get go. Plus, the big occasion of the finals, makes 140 seem like 160. People are of the opinion that MI has such a long batting line up that CSK needs to get to 170+. But CSK are going at such a slow rate that its gonna be hard to get to 140 even.

7.2 overs: Hayden’s somnambulist struggle tells on Vijay. Gets under a fuller and slightly slower ball from Fernando. Intended shot over long on, goes to deep midwicket. Saurabh Tiwary settles under it and easily pouches it. Hayden continues in his merry ways and plays off four more dot balls. After 8 overs, CSK are 44 for 1, prompting this exchange.

Me: Man, Hayden is playing like this is a test match.

Madhu: I have heard he plays actually much more aggressive and faster than this in a test match.

Me: Yeah, That’s true! *Sigh*

8.4 overs: MI commit one of the many serious bumbling acts that would lead them to a loss. First, A slower from Pollard induces a top-edge from Hayden and the keeper takes an easy catch. CSK fans celebrate. MI fans are not sure what to do!

People are picking on the limited range in Badrinath’s game. Matter piles on by saying, “Machi, avam mogathala ee adala machi!” but goes on to tell a story from his school cricket game. During the under-10 cricket tournament, apparently, Badri pulled off a one-handed blinder on the field. The entire crowd watching the game, stood in unison it seems and gave him an ovation. Major goosebump inducing story! (Matter went to the same school as Badri).  At this time, another guy watching the game with us, also confesses that his classmate was R. Ashwin. Funny part – this dude’s name is also R. Ashwin. Talked about the confusion created in the class when teachers call out for R. Ashwin.

10.3 overs: As if to rebut all the guys making fun of Badri’s game, he pulls a Sachin. Waiting till the last moment to upper cut the short ball from Pollard for a boundary. Very innovative shot, looks very elegant while doing it.

Couple of veggie pizzas from Papa Johns. Sridhar pays for it. Good boy. When we decided to order, not many were interested. But the 2 large pizzas absolutely disappear.

11.2 overs Badri falls trying to push the rate. Gets too far inside a short ball from Fernando and holes out to Malinga at fine leg. 67/2.

CSK are in a tighter hole. Need something big from the two batsmen on the pitch now, Dhoni and Raina. At least one of them has to be till the end of 20 overs. If not, repeat of IPL 2008.

12.1 overs: DHOONNIIIIIII…. One handed pull and the ball rockets over the onside boundary. Dhoni, Emm. Ess. Dhoni. Only Dhoni.

13.0 overs: Run rate at 6.50. (91/3) Some aggressive running and boundaries from Dhoni have pushed it up. Looks like the innings has got some momentum. These two need to play together another 7 overs. 9 runs an overs from here on out, gets CSK to a highly competitive 154.

13.2 overs Second crucial mistake from MI. Its grade school cricket from MI fielders in the deep. Each calling the other to take the top edge from Raina’s attempt to pound the ball to midwicket boundary. BIG. BIG DROP! Ball drops harmlessly between the 2 fielders. You can actually see Zaheer (the bowler) mouth a few Behenchods! Sachin is livid.

15.2 overs Zaheer is the culprit now. Another top edge from Raina. Zak calls off the keeper (as he should) but the balls hits his fingertips before going down. Veins on Sachin’s forehead are about to burst. MI fans giving gaalis to Zak. Pulling their hair out! CSK fans out of the seats, jumping around, rubbing it in. Perhaps the big occasion is getting to MI players??

17.1 overs MSD is out after a quickfire 22 off 15 balls. Fernando holds on to something finally. Dhoni through his swing almost before the full toss from Zak gets to him. Hits the side of the bat’s blade and goes to extra cover on the circle.

20.0 Thanks to some lusty hitting from Raina and Albie Morkel, and some poor death bowling by MI, Chennai get to a seemingly unassailable 168/5.

Smoke break. Spoke to my father-in-law. He is painting the house while watching the game. Good American Man! He says, “We started slowly but looks like we made good towards the end”. Love the way he says “We”. He has adopted CSK as his team. Really good man. And adds, “Hey, What can I tell ya, Mumbai should have held their catches!!”. Cracks me up, totally!

Part 2: Mumbai Innings

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!