Mumbai: 3 or 2? 4-0 or 3-1? 8-2 or 7-3? MS Dhoni or Kane Williamson? Comeback Kings or David Warner-less Sunrisers? Numerous stats, a plethora of emotions, solid logic and records will hog the limelight as Chennai Super Kings (CSK) square off against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) for one final time in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 final at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.
While CSK have a clean sheet against SRH in IPL 2018, with three wins in as many games – two in the league stage and one in the playoffs, and will be eager to hand another defeat to SRH to make it 4-0, the Kane Williamson-led SRH unit will be out to tame Dhoni’s men in the all-important clash and change the scoreline 1-3 in this edition of the tournament; a solo win but a win that matters more than the three defeats.
They have enough quality and inspiration in their own dugout to believe they can win. But if at all, they want to skim through the IPL records, they need not look back too far. They just have to know how Mumbai Indians, in IPL 2017, turned the tide to clinch the title after losing thrice against Rising Pune Supergiant before the final. If SRH managed to pull that off, it will also improve their head to head record to 3-7 and level the IPL trophy score with CSK and Kolkata Knight Riders with two triumphs each. If not, CSK will make it 8-2 to equal MI’s record of three IPL trophies and with that Dhoni will become only the second captain after Rohit Sharma to have led the same side to IPL triumphs thrice.
There were some loose ends for both the teams in their last few games. SRH lost four games in a row after sealing a place in the playoffs and their last win, before the Qualifier 2 win on Friday, was on May 10 when they beat Delhi Daredevils. CSK, on the other hand, had to deal with some top-order falls and Sam Billings’ struggle as the team had to deal with fielding lapses and death bowling blemishes.
While SRH struggled yet again with the bat in Qualifier 2, before Rashid Khan’s heroics powered them to 174 against Kolkata Knight Riders, CSK had almost booked their ticket for a Kolkata detour before Faf du Plessis pulled off a stunning win from the jaws of defeat in Qualifier 1.
However, if there were any two sides that deserved to be in this year’s final, they had to be SRH and CSK, who have been the best defenders and best chasers respectively in most part of the tournament. While CSK managed to find different players to get the job done in different matches, SRH banked heavily on Kane Williamson (688 runs), Rashid and Siddarth Kaul (21 wickets each) to get the job done with Shikhar Dhawan (471 runs) and Shakib Al Hasan (14 wickets and 216 runs) chipping in with important contributions.
There will be battle within battles – Lungi Ngidi and Deepak Chahar vs Dhawan and Williamson, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kaul, Rashid and Shakib vs Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Faf, Suresh Raina and Dhoni as SRH, tournament’s best bowling side takes on the tournament’s best chasing unit. However, the final will also offer fans a chance to witness the battle between Captain Cool Dhoni and Captain Cooler Williamson for one final time in IPL 2018.
There had been no shortage of drama, euphoria and emotions for both the teams before and, in CSK’s case, before and shortly after the season kicked off. SRH had lost David Warner as he was barred from IPL 2018 following the ball-tampering row and Cricket Australia’s subsequent one-year ban. CSK, who were making a comeback to the tournament, after completing a two-year suspension following the spot-fixing saga, were forced to shift to change home venue from Chennai to Pune due to Cauvery row.
But Dhoni (455 runs), who has turned the clock back with his vintage big-hitting and cool finishes, and Williamson, who seems to have given his classical batting style a big-hitting fillip, without compromising on his eternally beautiful strokeplay, have led their respective sides with poise, even when the going got tough, on and off the field.
“Tennis is a tough sport, there are no draws, but if there was going to be one I would have been very happy to accept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa (Nadal),” Roger Federer had said following his Australian Open triumph in 2017. Cricket, unlike tennis, can have draws, albeit not in the shortest format of the game. Otherwise, it would have been fitting to witness to Dhoni and Williamson sharing the spoils and sharing the trophy.
Head to head:
Most runs (IPL 2018):
Ambati Rayudu (CSK): 586 runs
Kane Williamson (SRH): 688 runs
Most wickets (IPL 2018):
Shardul Thakur (CSK): 15 wickets
Rashid Khan and Siddath Kaul (SRH): 21 wickets each
Chennai Super Kings:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Shane Watson, Ambati Rayadu, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Faf Du Plessis, Harbhajan Singh, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Lungi Ngidi, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Sam Billings, Mark Wood, K M Asif, Kanish Seth, Kshtiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Imran Tahir, Karn Sharma, Shardul Thakur, N Jagadeesan, David Willy.
Kane Williamson (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan, Shakib Al Hasan, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Hooda, Khaleel Ahmed, Sandeep Sharma, Yusuf Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha, Shreevats Goswami, Ricky Bhui, Basil Thampi, T Natarajan, Sachin Baby, Bipul Sharma, Mehdi Hasan, Tanmay Agarwal, Alex Hales, Carlos Brathwaite, Mohammad Nabi, Chris Jordan.
Date and match-timings:
The match is scheduled to start at 7 P.M. IST on Sunday, May 27, 2018....