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Preview : Final - MI vs CSK

Two former champions will lock horns in a high-voltage Pepsi IPL 2015 summit clash

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What

The two-most successful T20 teams in the world - Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings - will battle to be crowned champions of Pepsi IPL 2015.

Mumbai Indians’ journey to the final has been a fascinating story. They were all but written off after the first two weeks of the competition when they lost their first four matches of the season and lay at the bottom of the table. However, they rose like phoenix from the ashes, finished the league stage of the competition at second place, and took the direct route to the title clash after winning the first of the Playoff matches. Coach Ricky Ponting has maintained through the season that if his side played their best cricket, they would be very hard to beat. That happened in Qualifier 1 against CSK, when every player played his role to near perfection; there were contributions from the top four – with one of them playing well into the second half, and each of the specialist bowlers kept pegging away at the opposition wickets at regular intervals.

That the Chennai Super Kings will be playing in an IPL final for the sixth time itself illustrates how consistent they have been over the years. Though they are the defending Champions League T20 champions, an IPL title has eluded them for three seasons; they won the IPL title in successive years in 2010 and 2011, but have since been pipped at the post in two finals. This season, CSK have had to take the long route to progress to the Final. They occupied the top slot in the standings at the end of the regular league season, but were outclassed by MI in all departments in the first Playoff match and had to get to the better of Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Eliminator to make it to the title clash.

MI begin favourites; they are the form team having won 8 of their last nine matches. The four-day break since booking their berth in the Final has given them enough time to recharge their batteries and come energised for this high-stakes contest. For most part of the season, CSK have rode on two factors – Brendon McCullum’s destructive batting and familiar conditions at home. MS Dhoni and co. will need to come up with a special performance, given they will be without the services of their dashing Kiwi opener and have had a very modest record on the road.

When

24 May 2015, 8p.m. IST

Where

Eden Gardens, Kolkata

The Protagonists

Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina will be at the centre of the batting plans of MI and CSK respectively. Both batsmen have had a below-par season so far; the time has come for them to step up and deliver a match-winning performance in this all-important match. Both teams will also hope one of the openers can drop anchor and bat through the innings; Lendl Simmons for MI, and Michael Hussey for CSK are best suited to play the role of anchor.

The performance of the bowlers in the middle overs could well dictate which way this match heads. Mi will look towards Lasith Malinga to strike early and make life easy for the bowlers who operate in the middle period of the innings, while CSK will hope the spin trio of R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Pawan Negi can work their web around the MI batsmen and force them into taking risks.

Contests to look-forward to

Harbhajan Singh walked away with the bragging rights after dismissing Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni off successive deliveries in the previous match against CSK. It will be interesting to see if the CSK pair are able to settle scores if they happen to run into the MI off-spinner again.

Purple Cap holder Dwayne Bravo running in to bowl to Kieron Pollard promises to be another interesting contest. Both players know each other’s game very well; they’ve played together for Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies and even shared the Mumbai Indians dressing room briefly. Bravo has generally been given the ball in the final stretch of the innings; if he comes on to bowl in those last five-six overs, he will be up against Pollard who will attempt to deposit most deliveries into the stands.

Previous Meetings

The overall head-to-head between the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings stands at 11-10 in favour of the former. In matches played this season too, MI have a 2-1 win-loss record against CSK. In the first meeting in Mumbai, the CSK opening pair of Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith gave the hosts a pounding as they added 109 in 7.2 overs; CSK chased down 184 in 16.4 overs. In the return fixture, CSK were restricted 158-5 and put up a stiff fight. But cameos from Ambati Rayudu and Hardik Pandya helped MI to a 6-wicket win in the final over. In the third meeting this season – in Qualifier 1 – MI posted 187-6 riding on Lendl Simmons’ half-century, his 90-run partnership with Parthiv Patel and Kieron Pollard’s 17-ball 41. In the second half of the game, Harbhajan Singh landed two big blows, picking up the wickets of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni to derail the chase. MI bowled out CSK for 162 and went on to win by 25 runs. 


Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings in the Last-Four Stage matches

Mumbai Indians – 2, Chennai Super Kings - 4

2015 Qualifier 1

MI won by 25 runs

2014 Eliminator

CSK won by 7 wickets

2013 Qualifier 1

CSK won by 48 runs

2013 Final

MI won by 23 runs

2012 Eliminator

CSK won by 38 runs

2010 Final

CSK won by 22 runs


Trivia

CSK & MI are the two teams with the most wins in T20 matches in the world. CSK are top of the list of teams with most wins in T20 matches with 94 wins (out of 155 matches), while MI are second-best with 83 victories (in 147 matches).

The average first innings total in Pepsi IPL 2015 matches at the Eden Gardens is 171. Teams chasing have won 4 of the 6 matches played at the venue this season.

In six Pepsi IPL 2015 matches at the Eden Gardens, the quick bowlers have picked up 27 wickets and conceded runs at an economy rate of 8.69. Spinners have been a lot more effective; they have bowled fewer overs, have picked up 37 wickets and conceded runs at an economy rate of 7.91.

Mumbai Indians have a 6-2 win-loss record in IPL matches in Kolkata, while the Chennai Super Kings have a 4-4 win-loss record at the venue.

The team batting first has won 4 of the 7 IPL finals so far. CSK won both their finals batting first, while MI won the 2013 Final batting first.

What Next

This game draws the curtains down on yet another successful season of the Pepsi Indian Premier League. The winner of this contest will take home the prized IPL trophy and a winner’s purse of INR 15 Crore, while the runner-up will carry home a purse of INR 10 Crore.