2015 Final: Chennai Super Kings v/s Mumbai Indians
No, this isn’t the first qualifier at Wankhede. This isn’t the 2013 Final or the 2010 Final between these two teams. This is yet another chapter in the rivalry of the two strongest T20 teams in India. CSK, led by Dhoni, and MI, led by Rohit, will face off for their third T20 Final. At the Mecca of Asian Cricket – Eden.
Mumbai Indians: Their path to the final has been relatively complicated. They didn’t touch the top 4 till their final game of the group stages. Because of some rain luck, and SRH collapsing, MI finished second in the group, after losing their first 4 games of the season. This isn’t the first time they’ve done a come-from-behind knockout run. This will be their third final. They then proceeded to defeat table toppers CSK at home in the first qualifier, forcing CSK to play an extra game against RCB to reach the finals. CSK did their job, and now it’s upto MI to stop them. Interestingly, back in 2013, MI lost the qualifier to CSK, and then faced them again in the final. They won the game with a stellar bowling effort, and their first title. Could CSK execute the reverse on them? MI look well balanced, thanks to the arrival of Simmons and Parthiv at the top. Youngsters like Pandya and Suchith have been stepping up, and they have won 8 off their last 9 T20 games. They are in form, led by Rohit, who is yet to score big after his 98* in the opening game of the season against KKR at Eden Gardens—which is incidentally his favorite venue, because he has scored his only T20 century here, as well as his record-shattering 264 against Sri Lanka. He loves this ground, and he wants to make sure his team wins their first game here this season. His 98 went in vain when MI lost to KKR in the beginning. But they’re back stronger,better and with Pollard and Malinga firing again.
Chennai Super Kings: For once, they finished top of the table, and didn’t have to sneak through. They then lost to MI disappointingly, but went on to win against the in-form RCB at Ranchi, MSD’s home. The script was perfect, because they now have a second shot at defeating MI in the same week. MI has always been a bogey team for them (11-10 over CSK), and both of them have the highest win-loss ratios in this tournament. It’s fascinating that CSK’s batting hasn’t fired yet at all, except for McCullum’s pyrotechnics early on. Smith has failed repeatedly, as has Raina. Faf has promised, but not delivered. Dhoni hasn’t looked his old self. Somehow, they have managed to produce the best bowling and fielding unit in the tournament. They have the first and second highest wicket takers in Bravo and Nehra—one who does his job at the end, and one who makes in-roads in the first few overs. They have a battery of spinners, all of whom will come handy on a turning Eden pitch. Ashwin has been the best and most economical, while Negi and Jadeja have supported him in spurts. All they need now is for Michael Hussey to carry his good form from the RCB game into this one, and hope for one of Smith or Raina to fire. It’s about time. And this could be the best time.
Prediction: CSK look the favorites on a turning pitch with four spinners. But MI have Harbhajan, who isn’t to be overlooked in big matches. If MI win, they will join CSK and KKR as the two-time Champions of this tournament. If CSK win, they will become the only three-time Champion, second to none.