CSK eye third title to complete fairytale comeback

Here we are. 59 matches done. 10 venues as hosts. Thousands of miles covered. 149 players fighting tooth and nail to enable their team a shot at the trophy. There were mighty tugs of war – this IPL will perhaps be remembered most for how deep it went and how competitive most of its matches were. 50 days since the start, only two teams remain – Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad – leaving 22 players and a few substitutes their last chance at glory in IPL 2018.

Chennai Super Kings have made a habit of appearing in IPL finals, even if they haven’t really made winning the final a habit. They are in their seventh IPL final in nine attempts, having won two, back-to-back, in 2010 and 2011. They were away on a two-year hiatus, and to return to the competition with a triumph will be a statement of sorts for CSK.

For SRH, it will be the culmination of years of meticulous planning and execution. Including this year, they have made the playoffs on three consecutive occasions. Possessing a strong bowling attack already, they strengthened it further this season by adding a few more names. It is no surprise now that their attack is the most lethal and constantly wins them games that people think are beyond them.

As has been the trend this IPL, the tug of war is set to continue into the final games. The match-ups between players from both sides make for a mouth-watering contest. Kane Williamson and MS Dhoni take on each other as not only captains leading from the front, but also as middle order mainstays. Rashid Khan faces the experienced batting order that has gotten the better of him thrice (His 2-11 in four overs in the last game not enough to help SRH win) already. Lungi Ngidi goes up against Shikhar Dhawan, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar will have to tackle two international stars in Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson.

The final is at stake and the sub-plots already look delightful. It has been one hell of an IPL, and it could just have the explosive finish it deserves.

When: IPL 2018 final – May 27, Sunday, 7 PM IST

Where: Wankhede, Mumbai

What to expect: The last match at the Wankhede was a spinner’s delight, and the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Rashid Khan feasted on it. Expect more of the same on Sunday. Weatherwise, a cloudy, humid evening with a slight chance of rain.

Team News:

Chennai Super Kings: Expect Dhoni’s side not to go in with any changes. Harbhajan could be given a bigger role, he did not bowl at all in the last game, given how the pitch will behave. Karn Sharma has an outside chance, should CSK look at beefing their spin department.

Predicted Playing XI: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (C & wk), Dwayne Bravo, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Deepak Chahar, Shardul Thakur, Lungi Ngidi

Sunrisers Hyderabad: SRH may have put an end to their four-game losing streak by beating KKR, but they are still bogged down by a few issues. Thier biggest buy in the auction, Manish Pandey, could come back in for their biggest game of the season given Hooda’s lack of form, while Khaleel Ahmed not-so-inspiring outing in the last game could bring Sandeep Sharma back into the spotlight.

Predicted Playing XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Kane Williamson (c), Manish Pandey/Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib al Hasan, Carlos Brathwaite, Rashid Khan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Siddharth Kaul, Khaleel Ahmed/Sandeep Sharma.

What they said:

“Look I think we can all recall the last game we played. We could have won that game by 20 runs or lost it as we did. It was a remarkable comeback from CSK. I guess we got 90 percent of that game right and you got to give credit where it’s due. Faf played a remarkable innings and showed his class and experience to be able to see it right to the end. You know, I’m not looking at areas that we need to tighten up. We just need to concentrate on our brand of cricket and make sure we bring that to the final tomorrow. And as long as we do that, I’m sure we’ll be competitive on the day.” – Tom Moody, SRH Head Coach

“Experience really counts but it’s not that it always matters. It is not something that can’t be replaced. Excess of everything is bad… the good thing is we have managed with them very well, we have got quite a few good fielders in the side… It is good that whenever we have played we have had at least two good fielders or outstanding fielders, that can man that deep midwicket position. We have done well so far but it is something that can hurt us at any time.” – MS Dhoni, CSK Captain

Stats:

Head to Head of teams

SRH 2 – 7 CSK

Team Record in Playoffs

SRH 4 W – 3 L

CSK 11 W – 7 L

Interesting face-offs

Rayudu vs SRH: Ten innings; 385 runs; Avg 48.13; SR 144.19

Against no other side against whom he has batted more than one innings, he has a better average or SR. He has been MoM in both games in the league phase against SRH.

Dhoni vs Bhuvneshwar: Dhoni has scored 87 runs off Bhuvneshwar from just 52 balls at a SR of 167.30 – the most scored off the right-arm seamer by a player without getting dismissed. He has been superb against pace scoring at 166 compared to just 118 against spin (also two dismissals vs pace compared to four against spin – all leg spinners).

IPL 2018 trends

CSK are the best batting side in the tournament with the highest average of 35.04 per wicket combined with a scoring rate of 8.92 (second best behind DD’s 9.10).

SRH are the best bowling side of the tournament in terms of ER (7.89) and best in terms of average runs per wicket (24.21).

SRH are the only side to defend totals less than 150 thrice while CSK are the only side to chase down 180+ targets thrice.

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