New Delhi: It was a distant thought, let alone a possible reality, at the start of Champions League Twenty20 to see two Indian Premier League powerhouses in the final; however, lightning has struck twice, first in the form of Royal Challengers Bangalore and then Mumbai Indians, who have set up a summit clash on Sunday evening.
The line-up for the final has also stamped the paper for the trophy to remain in India. Defending champions Chennai Super Kings couldn't repeat their double of the IPL in CLT20, confirming that we will have a new champion, but it will remain to be one from India.
It wasn't a rosy beginning to the tournament for the two finalists. Mumbai Indians were struggling to find seven fit Indians until the semi-finals. And when they raised a white flag, the tournament's technical committee allowed them to field five foreigners, which was revoked only before their semi-final on Saturday.
Mumbai were without their skipper Sachin Tendulkar, but kept their nerves under Harbhajan Singh's guidance to register close wins over Chennai and Trinidad & Tobago. And when the game against Cape Cobras got washed out, the one point earned more or less confirmed their entry into the semis from Group A.
In RCB's case, their campaign was rocked right at the start with two defeats against the Warriors and Kolkata Knight Riders, which seriously dented their chances of reaching the last-four. But back-to-back victories in the next two against Somerset and South Australia – whom they beat with a six off the last ball - helped them sneak through on net-run rate from Group B.
And in the semi-finals, while Chris Gayle's fireworks helped RCB chase down a total of over 200 (203) against New South Wales for the second consecutive match, Lasith Malinga scripted Mumbai's 10-run close win over Somerset.
On that premise, the final on Sunday could well turn out to be between RCB's batting led by Gayle and Virat Kohli, and Mumbai's bowling attack spearheaded by Lasith Malinga.
That RCB have conceded totals of over 200 for their last two matches puts serious question marks over their bowlers' efficiency. In that respect, captain Daniel Vettori and paceman Dirk Nannes will need to be at their best in the eight overs between them, even though Mumbai's batting hasn't really knocked opponents over so far.
In the absence of Tendulkar at the top and Rohit Sharma in the middle, they have lacked both firepower and stability, which has shown so far in their last-gasp wins in the run-up to the final. So Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard will have to do bulk of the run-scoring, which they have done in patches so far in the tournament.
Interestingly, both the teams are without any trophies ever since their inception in 2008. Considering that, the players won't give an inch to add one to their franchise's cabinet come Sunday evening.