Grand fi­nale! —Chen­nai Su­per Kings, Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad square off in 2018 IPL fi­nal

Stabroek News Sunday - - SUNDAY SPORT -

The Chen­nai Su­per Kings and Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad will come up against each other for the fourth time this sea­son.

How­ever, un­like all of their pre­vi­ous meet­ings, there’s a lot at stake in this par­tic­u­lar match. It is the Grand Fi­nale. CSK and SRH are the last two teams stand­ing in the com­pe­ti­tion, and they will vie to be crowned the VIVO IPL 2018 cham­pi­ons.

Sun­ris­ers and the Su­per Kings fin­ished the league stage as the top two teams. CSK pro­gressed di­rectly to the Fi­nal after they de­feated SRH in the first of the play­off matches, while SRH had to de­feat the Kolkata Knight Riders in Qual­i­fier 2 on Fri­day night to make it to the ti­tle clash.

The Su­per Kings have had a four-day break since their jailbreak wins in Qual­i­fier 1. After re­strict­ing SRH to 139-7, CSK were in deep trou­ble at 927. But Faf du Plessis used up all his ex­pe­ri­ence, sucked up all the pres­sure, and de­liv­ered a match-win­ning in­ning much to the de­light of his team­mates. CSK won that con­test by 2 wick­ets with 5 balls to spare.

If the Sun­ris­ers are in the fi­nal, they have to thank Rashid Khan, The all-rounder from Afghanistan had the per­fect match against KKR in Qual­i­fier 2 – mak­ing cru­cial con­tri­bu­tions with the bat, ball and in the field.

In brief, CSK v SRH is the best bat­ting side this sea­son pit­ted against the best bowl­ing side.

CSK have the most play­ers with sea­son ag­gre­gates of 400 or more runs 4. They have the best bat­ting av­er­age over­all (35.04) and are the only team to have re­alised 2 hun­dred from their bats­men. They have hit the most sixes – 135. Fur­ther, CSK has been the best chas­ing side this sea­son; they have a 7-2 win-loss record in run-chases.

SRH is the only team to have taken more than 100 wick­ets. They have the best bowl­ing av­er­age – 24.21 and are the only team with an over­all econ­omy rate of un­der eight (7.89). SRH have the best record de­fend­ing; they have a 5-3 win-loss record when de­fend­ing to­tals.

There is no scope for medi­ocrity and there will be no sec­ond chance. Which of these two teams – led by two of the calmest cap­tains ever – will be able to soak in the pres­sure, do the things that has brought them this far in the com­pe­ti­tion – if any­thing a lit­tle bet­ter, and land the knock­out punch on their op­po­nent? The count­down has be­gun . . .

The se­cret to CSK’s suc­cess this sea­son is that they’ve had dif­fer­ent play­ers con­tribut­ing match­win­ning per­for­mances; six dif­fer­ent CSK bats­men have been recog­nised as play­ing match-win­ning knocks and have been re­warded with the Player of the Match award. The ones most likely to in­flict the max­i­mum dam­age with the bat are Shane Wat­son and Am­bati Rayudu. Both Wat­son and Rayudu, who have sea­son ag­gre­gates of 438 and 586 runs re­spec­tively, have had two poor out­ings now and are due for a big score.

Suresh Raina has threat­ened time and again, and con­trib­uted im­por­tant runs, but he has not been able to stamp his au­thor­ity in the Raina-way. And then there is MS Dhoni. The CSK cap­tain has had a fab­u­lous sea­son with the bat. He loves the big oc­ca­sion too.

For the most part of the sea­son, Sun­ris­ers have been a two-man bat­ting unit, with cap­tain Kane Wil­liamson and Shikhar Dhawan con­tribut­ing the bulk of the runs. Wil­liamson, the Or­ange Cap holder, has bat­ted beau­ti­fully; it isn’t about the quan­tity of the runs alone – but the man­ner he has amassed them. The Kiwi bats­man brings an el­e­ment of pu­rity to the crease, there’s some­thing ap­peal­ing – which one can only ex­pe­ri­ence – about the un­hur­ried man­ner in which he ac­cu­mu­lates his runs.

Dhawan be­gan the sea­son well be­fore suf­fer­ing a blow to his el­bow and hit­ting a trough; the left-han­der is back among the runs now and will be an in­te­gral part of SRH’s bat­ting plans.

Con­di­tions at the Wankhede Sta­dium gen­er­ally have some­thing on of­fer for all kinds of bowlers. CSK will ex­pect Deepak Cha­har and Lungi Ngidi to strike early – just like they did in Qual­i­fier 1 – and al­low the likes of Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo and Ravin­dra Jadeja to con­trol the later por­tion of the in­nings.

Rashid Khan and Siddarth Kaul are SRH’s two most suc­cess­ful bowlers – both play­ers have a tally of 21 wick­ets in 16 matches this sea­son. Rashid’s rep­u­ta­tion has been on the rise all the time; the leg-spin­ner from Afghanistan has not only prised out the op­po­si­tion’s key bats­man gen­er­ally, but he has also pro­vided his team break­throughs at cru­cial times and has choked the bats­men at other times.

Kaul can get the new ball to dart around, but SRH have em­ployed him as a death overs spe­cial­ist. The 28-year old has im­pres­sive num­bers bowl­ing at the death; he has 10 wick­ets and an econ­omy rate of 7.55. In a con­test be­tween the two best teams, which can be ex­pected to be played right to the end, Kaul will play a cru­cial role bowl­ing the last few overs. Team Head to Head Over­all: Matches – 9, Chen­nai Su­per Kings won – 7, Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad won – 2

In 2018: Matches – 3, Chen­nai Su­per Kings won – 3, Sun­ris­ers Hy­der­abad won – 0.

The team bat­ting first has won 7 of the pre­vi­ous 10 IPL Fi­nals.

Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni and Kane Wil­liamson ahead of to­day’s IPL fi­nal. (Photo cour­tesy IPL web­site)

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