IPL 2019 Final: CSK, MI fight for title #4

IPL 2019 Final: The two-most successful sides in the league, and the two teams who finished first and second in the standings this season, will compete in the Grand Finale; the Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings will vie for a fourth IPL title when they clash on Sunday evening.

MI won their maiden IPL title in 2013, and added to their tally in 2015 and 2017. Can they make it a fourth odd-year-win in a row? Or will MS Dhoni’s ‘dad’s army’ cause an upset and clinch a fourth title?

Road to the final was…

A groggy start met with typical, late acceleration

Mumbai Indians found starting trouble again and at the half-way stage in the league, had four wins from seven games. But once the business end kicked in, the muscle memory of excelling under extreme pressure took over . The result – five wins in the last seven games to go from being one of the playoffs spot scramblers to finishing top of the table.

Smooth at first, bumpy through the middle

Chennai Super Kings’ ride was nearly the opposite of what MI achieved. They were true to their title of defending champions at the start of the season, peeling off six wins in the first seven games. But through the latter stages, teams began to find flaws to pick. The result – three wins in the last seven games to finish second – based on an inferior NRR.

When: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2019 Final, May 12, 2019 7:30 PM IST

Where: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad

What to expect: The Hyderabad strip has been kind on the fast bowlers – to such an extent that Alzarri Joseph wiped out Sohail Tanvir’s 11-year-long best-bowling figures with a six-fer. The overall tally too is heavily skewed in favour of the quicks – 52 to 27 for the spinners. Weather-wise, temperatures in the early 30s during match time is expected to greet the two sides. There was rain on the eve of the game and there could be a slight chance of rain during the game as well.

Team news:

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians have had the advantage of a mini-break before the final by the virtue of winning the first qualifier. But as Friday night’s game at Visakhapatnam unfolded, it brought them a match-up vs conditions dilemma. On a spinning Chepauk pitch, MI opted to bench Mitchell McClenaghan despite his previous game returns, just to bring in an offspinner in Jayant Yadav to trouble Suresh Raina early.

The CSK No.3 came with the reputation of getting better with the bat as the tournament progressed and has been particularly proficient in the knockouts. In the first qualifier though, MI’s move worked like a charm – Jayant claimed Raina’s wicket in his first over.

Going with the same team should be ideal then, but what of the conditions? Fast bowlers have thrived on the Hyderabad pitch this year, and SRH’s left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahemd’s numbers at home (10 wickets in 4 games) might tempt Rohit Sharma to bring back McClenaghan.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Jayant Yadav/Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah

Chennai Super Kings

Going a batsman short against a Kagiso Rabada-less, bits-and-pieces Delhi Capitals bowling attack was a calculated move. But can such a decision come easy when it has to be carried off against the Jasprit Bumrah-fuelled bowling machinery of Mumbai Indians? Unlikely.

Shardul Thakur replaced Murali Vijay for the second qualifier, only to bowl just a single over. There’s a good chance then, CSK will revert to including an extra batsman in the line-up.

Probable XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur/Murali Vijay, Deepak Chahar

When in Hyderabad…

– Mumbai Indians looked ordinary with the bat, and lost their way early while trying to force the pace of the game. They started with an abysmal PowerPlay, and worsened exponentially then on, only for Kieron Pollard to hold it all together with a cameo. And then Joseph ran riot.

– Chennai Super Kings didn’t particularly enjoy batting either. The trip to Hyderabad came at a time when CSK had won six out of their seven games – with four of those coming on sluggish pitches at home. But they just couldn’t cope in Hyderabad through the middle-overs, and ended up with a sub-par total that David Warner & Co. easily surmounted. The good news though, is that Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis – CSK’s twin architects from their Q2 victory – got their eye in in that fixture.

Did you know:

– Mumbai Indians enjoy a 16-11 head-to-head tally against CSK. It’s down to 4-4 in knockouts/playoffs, while MI have a 2-1 advantage in finals.

– Each of Mumbai Indians’ five final appearances is against a Dhoni side [CSK in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2019; RPS in 2017].

– CSK have won 12 out of 16 tosses this IPL

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