While the Mumbai Indians were runaway leaders in the league stage with 20 points, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings struggled to a 50:50 win-loss record to just make it to the final four. Such has been the competitive nature of this closely fought tournament though, that these two sides would battle it out on Sunday at the DY Patil stadium for the ultimate prize. If we were to compare the two sides on paper, the Mumbai Indians have the look of comfortable winners. Sachin Tendulkar though, would know well that his side is up against the most consistent team of the IPL, a team which has gone beyond the league stages in all three seasons.
Though Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard underlined the fact the Mumbai is not a one man show with their contributions in the semi-final against Bangalore, the focus remains on their star batsman and captain Tendulkar going into the final. Tendulkar injured his right hand trying to attempt a low catch in the Bangalore innings, and had to leave the field to get five stitches. His presence at the final is therefore in doubt, and it would be an immense loss considering that the orange-cap holder has literally carried Mumbai on his shoulders. The bowling has no such worries, with the Lankan duo of Lasith Malinga and Dilhara Fernando being complimented brilliantly by Zaheer and Harbhajan. Four of the top ten wicket takers of the season come from this team, and that includes Kieron Pollard, highlighting just how much his medium-pace has helped rock the momentum of the innings in the middle overs. There is no doubt that the whole of Mumbai would hope and pray for the return of Sachin for the finals, but at the back of their mind they would also be assured of the fact that a sound team that he has built should post an imposing challenge in front of the Super Kings, with or without him.
On a sluggish DY Patil surface, Dhoni would most likely go with the same combination once again, also given the fact that his spinners have outperformed his pacers by a huge margin. It is no coincidence then, that the top two wicket takers for Chennai are M Muralitharan (14) and R Ashwin (13), closely followed by Bollinger, who in only 7 games has 11 wickets to his name. The batting department is where the worry lies for Chennai, the top order needs to fire if Chennai have to have a realistic chance at the title. Matthew Hayden has faded away after a bright start, which means the key to Chennai’s success would be the Indian duo of M Vijay and Suresh Raina, as both have performed well through out this tournament. So overall, Mumbai has the edge in case a ‘fit’ Tendulkar returns, while Dhoni’s team would have to be favourites in case Mumbai go into the game without Sachin. Knowing Sachin though, he wouldn’t want to sit out of a big final, and expect the Master Blaster to play even if he has to hold the bat with one hand. So it will be the contest to watch out for and the winner of this battle will win the war.
Match Timings: Apr 25, 2010 (20:00 local/IST, 14:30 GMT)
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