After episodes of twists, turns, turbulence, and a months-long halt, the IPL 2021 has reached its climax with two titans on the ring to lock horns. The IPL final has always attracted a sense of excitement akin to the finals of ICC Cricket world cup and the battle, played by eight teams even when most of the global sporting events took a deferment in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, is going to end on Friday - October 15 with a final winner of the season.
All eyes are on Dubai as the countdown begins for the clash of titans, who share an equal scale of grit and tenacity to face any style of battle. The Dubai International Stadium will be hosting the final of IPL 2021 on Friday between the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). With more expectations on both the teams, it is indeed going to become a match to cherish forever. Both the team had endured a hard trajectory in the league and playoffs to stand on the final.
While the CSK was the first team to enter the playoffs this season, Dhoni's fleet had faced a hat-trick defeat in the league and came back strong to have a direct ticket to the finals by beating the Delhi capitals. More than KKR, it was defending champion Mumbai Indians who were expected to finish in the top over. However, the magic of Net Run Rate had gone in favour of KKR even both the teams shared the same point. Though finishing fourth in the points table, KKR had reiterated its grit to enter the finals by defeating both RCB and DC in the playoffs.
Chennai Super Kings had defeated the Delhi Capitals in the Qualifier 1 and entered the finals directly and became the only team in the IPL to enter the finals more times. It's the ninth time that Dhoni's men in yellow had made it into the finals and will be entering the battlefield with the hope of winning the trophy for the fourth time. On the other hand, KKR has won the IPL trophy two times in its three appearances and it's been several years since both the teams had won the title and to put a break for an incessant battle for the title, both the teams would deliver an unequivocal fight till the last minute to bring back the trophy home.
On the front of records in finals, CSK and KKR had clashed in the finals once in the IPL 2012 edition and KKR had won the trophy for the first time by defeating Dhoni's fleet at the latter's home ground in Chennai. While KKR would enter the finals of the current season in Dubai on Friday, it can pat itself with a record of defeating CSK once in the finals and with consecutive victories in the playoffs. For CSK, it's time to pay back to the opponent on the ring for the defeat they endured a decade ago. Both teams hold an equal level of strength with young guns and as the toss is hours ahead, let's take a look at their history, predictions, records, and the top players to watch out for in the finals.
One of the top similarities between CSK and KKR is both the teams are being coached by the New Zealanders. While Stephen Fleming coaches CSK, his KKR's counterpart is his compatriot Brendon McCullum. In head-to-head records, CSK had faced KKR in 26 matches overall in IPL in which CSK has won 17 matches while the rest were won by the KKR. One of the advantages of CSK is that Dhoni's team had defeated KKR in both the matches in the league of IPL 2021. As Dubai is known as a batting pitch, it has been predicted that the team which chose to bat first in the finals could put around 160 to 180 runs on the board.
Being a batting pitch, Dubai also favours the chasers as the dew that surfaces during the dusk would give more ordeal for the bowlers to control the ball. The toss is a crucial factor in this final and we can expect that whoever wins the toss would choose to field first and the toss would be one of the decision-makers in the winning probability. As the CSK is going to decorate the final stand, the fans expect the captain-knock from MS Dhoni to finish the game big and win the crown. The batting and bowling line-ups are strong and unpredictable in both the teams, along with young and experienced hands.
The run machines in both the CSK and KKR:
For CSK, its opening stand has been a hope giver to put a huge figure on the board as young Ruturaj Gaikwad and experienced Faf du Plessis had their chemistry worked every time they were on the pitch. Ruturaj Gaikwad is the highest runscorer for CSK in this current season by scoring 603 runs in 15 matches, followed by Plessis (547 runs), Ambati Rayudu (257), Ravindra Jadeja (227), and MS Dhoni (114). The batting line-up has been an asset for the CSK along with some of the sparkling bowlers like Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, and Josh Hazlewood.
For KKR, the battalion of spinners has been doing its best to beat the opponent while it also has young batsmen to attack the balls from experienced bowlers. Shubman Gill has been the highest runscorer for KKR in this current season by scoring 427 runs, followed by Venkatesh Iyer (320), Rahul Tripathi (395), Nitish Rana (383), and Dinesh Karthik (214).
The bowlers to watch out for:
CSK: Shardul Thakur (15 matches - 18 wickets), Dwayne Bravo (10 matches - 13 wickets), Deepak Chahar (14 matches - 13 wickets), Ravindra Jadeja (15 matches - 11 wickets), Josh Hazlewood (8 matches - 9 wickets).
KKR: Varun Chakravarthy (16 matches - 18 wickets), Sunil Narine (13 matches - 14 wickets), Lockie Ferguson (7 matches - 13 wickets), Prasidh Krishna (10 matches - 12 wickets), Andre Russell (10 matches - 11 wickets), Shivam Mavi (8 matches - 10 wickets). Besides these players, the 'R' factor must also be watched in this game and it implies Raina and Russell.
Raina has scored 747 runs for CSK in the matches against KKR and we expect a good show from this left-hander today to sail his team to the victory while KKR will most likely bring the Caribean star Russel back to the squad to win the CSK for the second time in the finals. Andre Russell has scored 344 runs against CSK and he has always been known as a dangerous and aggressive player both with bat and ball. On the front of bowlers, KKR's Sunil Narine has got more wickets against CSK with 19 while Ravindra Jadeja of CSK has dismissed 16 KKR batsmen so far in IPL. As the clash of titans is set to begin at 7.30 pm on Friday, the IPL title is waiting to go to the deserved hand.