7th April 2018- 11th season of the biggest carnival of cricket in India had begun and after 49 days and 59 matches, it is auguring a grand finish with just 2 teams in contention for the all important IPL trophy. These are the same two teams whose captains were farthest to the trophy in the photo session before the commencement of the season. Now, the tides turned and same two teams are closest to the trophy and waiting for the occasion to arrive.
CSK tournament Overview
The first team to qualify for the final was Chennai Super Kings which has returned after a ban of couple years. A lot of people were writing them off after auction saying it a too old squad. Yes, the age of their players hurt CSK in fielding big time and even Captain Cool MS Dhoni acknowledged it but at the same time their experience of handling different situations did matter a lot. Their home venue changed from Chennai to Pune and it wasn’t easy to adapt especially when you build your team as per the pitch in Chennai. CSK took absolutely no time and the credit must go to senior players who had the experience of playing in various conditions. Also, they won quite a few games which people expected them to lose. In each game, they kept finding some new heroes. From Dwayne Bravo in the very first game to Far Duplesis in the previous game, everyone stood up for the team which is the sign of a great team. CSK didn’t have a lot of hiccups in their journey to the playoffs as they kept pulling off sensational wins.
They were undoubtedly the best batting side of the competition with Rayudu, Watson and skipper Dhoni himself contributing the whole lot of share of team’s runs but the bowling was a massive problem for most part of the tournament and even now, death overs bowling is still a concern.
Bowling in the power play is their strength with Lungi and Deepak Chahar swinging the new ball both ways but they don’t seem to find the solution of their death over problem. Shardul Thakur travels a lot while one of the finest death over bowler Dwayne Bravo has costed them a game or two with poor execution at death. Even in last game, CSK conceded 47 runs in last 4 overs. The other problem for them is the form of Suresh Raina. He has hardly got big scores this season although he has over 400 runs in his bag. The redemption of Ravindra Jadeja has done them a world of good although they would like them to come good with bat too.
SRH Tournament Overview
SRH had a near perfect campaign at the league stages of the VIVO IPL 2018 where topped the table with 18 points. The tables turned a bit in their last 3 games where they could neither manage to chase nor defend the scores. But apart from these 3 games, they had a dream run this IPL. Their bowling was exemplary as they kept defending some real paltry scores ranging between 118 to 150.
Rashid Khan undoubtedly has been their best player this season. He has completely lived upto the expectations. He snatched the Second Qualifier from KKR’s grabs with his individual brilliance in all three departments. Not only last match, he has been brilliant throughout the tournament apart from going on leather hunt in 2-3 games which is okay in a long tournament. Kane Williamson has been their stalwart in batting which has come as a surprise too. He got into the squad and became a captain because of the ban on Warner but now, contrary to the popular expectations, he’s leading the orange cap chart. He has marshalled his troops equally well and in one sentence, he has been brilliant both as a batsman and captain. Pain in the neck for SRH throughout the tournament has been their middle order which has been extremely vulnerable. Manish Pandey had a torrid IPL and got dropped from the squad while his replacement Deepak Hooda didn’t show much of himself in last match. Yusuf Pathan has been on and off while Shakib Al Hasan has only got starts and got out in 20s. However, SRH can bank upon Carlos Braithwaite again to give them a quick finish.
The Big Final
Just few hours and both teams from Southern part of the country will be facing off each other in the grand finale in Mumbai where they met in the Qualifier 1 too which was a nerve wracking finish. CSK has beaten SRH thrice this season and will be favourites for the finals with momentum and dominance on their side. On the other hand, SRH can take inspiration from the history. Only last year, MI beaten RPS in the final after losing thrice to the same opponents earlier. SRH must have got a lot of confidence from the last victory. Rashid Khan, as usual will be the key player to watch out for on a tired Wankhede pitch. Apart from the forced changes due to injury (as Saha seems to be in some trouble), no team would like to change many things. Kane Williamson might open the batting to outthink MS Dhoni but the weak middle order can hold him back at 3. For CSK, it will be important to play out Rashid Khan which is easier said than done.
What to expect
Pitch: As we saw in Qualifier 1, Pitch is expected to be sluggish. With new ball assisting the Pacers and old ball helping spinners, we might expect a low scoring game.
Weather : Hot and Humid
Match Time : 7 PM IST/13:30 GMT
As IPL will end tommorrow, there will be few awards on stake too.
Orange Cap: Kane Williamson/Ambati Rayudu
Purple Cap: Andrew Tye/Rashid Khan/Siddharth Kaul
Emerging player of the season: Rishabh Pant (As per poll results)
VIVO Perfect catch of the season: AB Devilliers/ Trent Boult
Best Ground : Eden Garden/M Chinnaswamy
Most Valuable Player of the season: Sunil Narine
Super Striker of the season: Sunil Narine
Most stylish player of the season: Rishabh Pant