Dubai: Kolkata Knight Riders, won a thrilling eliminator yesterday at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium to beat Delhi Capitals and will now face three times champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League final at the iconic Dubai International Cricket Stadium tomorrow.
KKR have been playing at the slow and low pitches of the Sharjah Cricket Stadium since the last one week and are the only team to have played four games there and won them all; their last league match to go ahead of Mumbai Indians on net run rate against Rajasthan Royals to make it to the playoffs, the first eliminator to knock out Royal Challengers Bangalore and yesterday against Delhi Capitals to make it to the final.
Below par scores
So accustomed they were to the Sharjah ground, Eoin Morgan and the team would love to pack this pitch and relay it in Dubai as it suited their three spinners specially mystery spinners Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy who have been instrumental in keeping the opposition to below par scores which their batsman could chase down.
KKR has just played one game in the UAE leg at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium beating Sunrisers Hyderabad whereas CSK has played four games winning two and losing two, with their most important win coming in the first qualifier where they chased down a target of 172 where their captain MS Dhoni finally came to the party and produced the finishing touch scoring 18 runs of just 6 balls to rewind back the clock. The wickets at the Dubai stadium have been true and the average batting score has been 160 as compared to Sharjah’s 137 which should help the batsman from both sides.
If I had to pick one side which has an edge in the all-important final, it would be CSK purely because of the experience of playing more matches in Dubai as compared to KKR and know the conditions better. Moreover, they are led by a captain who has taken them to the IPL finals 9 times and won three and has the experience of playing big finals more than his counterpart Eoin Morgan who has had a horror run with the bat this season in the IPL.
Secondly, CSK has stuck to their core group of experienced players like Faf Du Plessis, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo and Ambati Raydu who have been with CSK franchise more than any other players and add to it they found Robin Uthappa who played a match winning innings against Delhi Capitals. Moreover, in Ruturaj Gaikwad they have found an opener, the only centurion in the UAE leg of IPL 2021, who has redefined the art of playing T20 with shots of pure class and elegance and is just 20 runs short of becoming the highest scorer behind KL Rahul and played a match winning innings in the first qualifier against Delhi Capitals and will be looking forward to carry forward his good form in the final.
Get their act together
KKR have their openers doing well in Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill and backed well by Rahul Tripathi who hit that all important six against Delhi Capitals and has a strike rate of 150 plus in the middle overs but will have to play smart cricket and finish the game as their middle order batsman like Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan have found the going tough. Will the young openers of KKR be able to absorb the pressure in the all the important final? Only time will tell but KKR have their work cut out and will have to ensure they get their act together as a unit to get past the experienced CSK who has already beaten them twice this year in the league games.
It’s going to be a cracker of a final and to pick one winner would be difficult but as they say experience can beat all odds and hence I would say CSK will have their hands on the coveted trophy for the fourth time and Mahi would sign off on a high as he has always done.