Kolkata: It’s a rematch of the 2013 final at the same venue, as well as that of the more recent Qualifier I. As the Top 2 table-toppers of Indian Premier League-8 line up for Sunday’s summit showdown at the Eden Gardens, two-time champions and three-time runners-up Chennai Super Kings may be a trifle uneasy in the knowledge that on both occasions they came out second-best to the Mumbai Indians. Perhaps, more alarming for Chennai is the recent relative ‘movement’ of the teams.
MI, who began the 47-day tournament on a disastrous note, losing their first four matches, suddenly have the wind in their sail. Squeezing into the knockout rounds with a couple of wins in do-or-die encounters, their recent surge could not have been more emphatically announced than that 25-run victory over CSK in the Qualifier I at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. In contrast, CSK having launched their campaign with three victories, have gone of the boil somewhat.
On Friday, they made heavy weather of a modest target to finally earn the ticket to Eden. While Mumbai have had a rejuvenating break of four days, Chennai will be hoping they have at least arrived here wisened by their
MI train, CSK rest
As MI squeezed in another day of nets on Saturday evening and the CSK players rested tired limbs in the cool confines of their hotel, MS Dhoni & Co may well have reflected on the positives that emerged from recent disappointments.
Mike Hussey’s coming to form filled much of the void left by Brendon McCullum’s departure for national duty. While they present a contrast in their respective approach as openers with Hussey’s measured approach looking understandably sedate after the Kiwi’s all-out attack, the Australian brings a calming influence that may work better in conditions at the Eden.
The track for the final has a green tinge to it, in contrast to those presented at KKR’s home matches. The presence of quality spinners -- Ravichandran Ashwin leading the CSK tweakers and in-form Harbhajan Singh doing it for Mumbai -- will demand the technique and temperament to tackle very different conditions from what the two teams played under in Mumbai.
For both, Harbhajan and MI skipper Rohit Sharma, the Eden has been a happy hunting ground. Even in the opener, which KKR won with some ease, Rohit had come away with a fluent 98. Of course, since then the Mumbai outfit has had more men running into form. Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel’s substantial partnerships have given them the platform to build on, while Kieron Pollard’s long handle has brought the late boost.
Ashish Nehra is having a great tournament, but CSK will want to deny Mumbai the big starts they have been enjoying. The lack of batting form of their own stars is the bigger concern.