Schedule – Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL Final, October 15, 19:30 IST
MS Dhoni had an unmistakable sparkle in her eyes as her team did another IPL final. It had been such a stressful week for him that he needed to express himself. He went on to score 27 runs in 18 balls against the same side in the first qualifier, amid a season of lifeless batting from 6 out of 18 runs against the Delhi Capitals, which sparked fair slogans of #vintage.
The 180-degree turn in Dhoni’s batting comeback, if anything, was the microcosm of the gripping end of this 2018-2021 cycle of CSK. 2020 started negotiations as a spendthrift force of CSK, laying the carpet for the Mumbai Indians to flee with all the accolades to be the most successful IPL franchise of all time. But here they are just a big performance away from limiting the IPL title losses to just one.
Also on the verge of writing an exciting redemption story of his own Kolkata Knight Riders. Since eliminator’s appearance at the start of this cycle in 2018, KKR had to play catch-up largely due to a nostalgic start to the season in 2019 and 2020 – and fell short of the top-four finishes on both occasions.
An acquaintance, if not worse, fate awaited him, with just two victories in India’s seven games, but favorable conditions in the UAE and the possibility of combinations coming together led him to the top. If the reversal in the number of wins from India leg – five in seven – was not enough to establish their turnaround, they have gone ahead and successfully overcome two playoff hurdles to equalize CSK’s IPL title. Arrive at the peak conflict.
CSK has a better IPL final experience, but KKR has never lost a single one. But these two teams will know that history has little effect on such bouts. They will also be wary of how much they are both capable of canceling each other’s strength, as we saw in their struggle at the end of September in Abu Dhabi. The two sides were very little separated in that stressful afternoon game, with very little gap likely on Friday evening.
Face-to-face: CSK has beaten KKR in 24 out of 16 bouts between the two sides. This includes 2019 of their last six meetings starting from 5. For KKR, however, one of those 16 came to the 2012 final – in chepock, no less.
Chennai Super Kings Squad: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(w/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, Suresh Raina, Cheteshwar Pujara, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Jason Behrendorff, Krishnappa Gowtham, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Harishankar Reddy, Dominic Drakes, Bhagath Varma
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Dinesh Karthik(w), Eoin Morgan(c), Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakaravarthy, Andre Russell, Harbhajan Singh, Tim Southee, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Kuldeep Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sheldon Jackson, Sandeep Warrier, Tim Seifert, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Vaibhav Arora
Chennai Super Kings
Injuries/Unavailable: Suresh Raina’s fitness level may no longer be relevant after Robin Uthappa’s impact in the first qualifiers. After Faf du Plessis dropped out of the first over, Uthappa performed admirably in the powerplay, and he should keep his berth in the final.
Tactics & Match-ups: Ruturaj Gaikwad is only 626 less than KL Rahul’s season tally of 23 runs. CSK wants it to get them and much more, and in the process the two most powerful bowlers of the KKR defied this UAE leg – Varun CV and Sunil Naren – with their superior spin game. Gaikwad’s importance for CSK batting is even greater as Faf du Plessis has scores of 0, 10, 76 and 1 in four matches in Dubai.
Probable XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood
Kolkata Knight Riders
Injuries/Unavailable: Andre Russell was believed to be on edge before the second qualifying on Wednesday, and he could be in contention for the final.
Strategy and match-ups: CSK was scoring a score of 2021-one-over in the middle overs in the India stage of IPL 9.44, which has now come to only 6.85 since the tournament moved to the UAE. This comes to KKR’s ears as he has seen his mid-overs bowling curve travel in the opposite direction – he took 7 wickets in 13 innings and worked with an economy rate of 8.14 in India, but in the UAE, it has improved. 9 innings in 6.19 . For 29 wickets.
Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
Did You Know:
– Russell, who might be fit for this fixture, has 300 runs in 10 outings against CSK at a strike rate of 169.49
– MS Dhoni has an average of 35.57 and a strike rate of 150 in IPL finals
– In the UAE leg, CSK and KKR have one opener each at the top of the batting charts – Gaikwad has scored 407 in 8 innings at an average of 67.83 and strike rate of 141.81, Venkatesh Iyer has 320 runs in 9 innings at an average of 40 and SR of 125.