Finally the D-Day is here. After seven weeks of non-stop cricket, some entertainment on the field and more than a few controversies off it, Chennai Super Kings will host the biggest game of IPL 5 - the final. The two-time and defending champions will face first-time finalists Kolkata Knight Riders in what promises to be a high voltage encounter at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday.
Chennai are overwhelming favourites to beat KKR and win their third successive IPL crown, keeping in mind the form they have shown in the last two matches against Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils. The tournament was turned on its head when Chennai were lucky to have qualified for the playoffs after Kings XI Punjab, Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore slipped in their league encounters late on.
Chennai's batting, particularly the top order, has been in scintillating form and their average in last three matches batting first is more than 200. Their last match on Friday against Delhi was remarkable for the ease with which CSK dismantled the team that was ranked No. 1 on the league table. Their stunning 86-run demolition of Delhi would have surely enhanced their confidence for the finals.
The CSK top order is in form with Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay and MS Dhoni all coming to form at the right time. Dhoni's fifty was the key to victory over Mumbai in the Eliminator, and before him the fightback was scripted by Hussey and Subramaniam Badrinath. In their win over Delhi, it was a one man show with Vijay going berserk and taking the game away from Delhi. His 113 off just 58 balls was one of the best knocks of IPL 5 and CSK will be hoping that he along with other batsmen shine on the day it matters most. And playing in home conditions will give the bowlers a psychological boost to neutralise KKR's superiority in bowling.
Kolkata, on the other hand, have been the most balanced and consistent team in the tournament so far. And that balance was evident as they finished second in the points tally. Gautam Gambhir with the bat and Sunil Narine with the ball have been the stand-out performers for the Shah Rukh Khan-owned team. Yusuf Pathan hit some form at the right time against Delhi in the first Qualifier and will surely be one of the key in the finals. KKR have four potential match-winners in their bowling line-up in Narine, L Balaji – who has the second best economy rate after Narine - Shakib Al Hasan and Brett Lee. Rajat Bhatia too has been a consistent in the team with his steady line and clever changes of pace. The best shot for KKR to win this match is that their batsmen get them off to a flying start.
Chennai will surely want to make a hat-trick of titles whereas KKR will hope to shed their under-achiever tag. Chennai have the best record while playing in their home ground and are sure shot favourites for this one.
Chennai Super Kings: Murali Vijay, Michael Hussey, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni, S Badrinath, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Shadab Jakati
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir, Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Debabrata Das, Laxmi Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Brett Lee, Sunil Narine