Dubai: The much-awaited Indian Premier League title clash, after 51 days of intense battle to spot the 11th edition’s champion, is here again. As the fans see it, it is a battle between Sunrisers Hyderabad’s orange army versus Chennai Super Kings’ yellow brigade.
Hyderabad ended their four-match losing streak in the crucial second qualifier to stop Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday night and ensured their place in the title clash. Will they able to show the same verve in the final on Sunday at the Wankhede Stadium against Chennai Super Kings?
Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Chennai know that Hyderabad can only be stronger in the final as they would have rectified the blemishes that led to their defeat in the first qualifier. Hyderabad have earned their second chance to try and beat Chennai by winning a tough battle on Kolkata’s home ground.
The Chennai team’s morale is high having already won against Hyderabad even when they came up against them with the aura of being table toppers. Dhoni knows that in an IPL final what matters is the ability to go for the kill. Seven out of nine times in the IPL, his team have featured in the final.
In the first qualifier, Chennai managed to restrict Hyderabad to a gettable total of 139. This is where Kolkata failed, as their bowlers gave away over 50 runs in the last three overs. Chennai will have to ensure that Hyderabad do not swell their total again as their own batting has shown a tendency to crumble and they won the qualifier due to Faf Du Plessis’ fighting innings. Their coach Stephen Fleming would surely have worked hard to ensure that other batsmen too are ready to step up in the final.
In a battle between two equally strong teams, a strong individual performance can tilt the balance of the match. Hyderabad are in the final purely due to such an individual performance from Rashid Khan. Chennai will focus on Khan and ensure that he does not repeat the allround show that destroyed Kolkata.
Dhoni has attributed his team’s triumph to the positive atmosphere he has managed to create in the dressing room, which enables their players to play freely without fear of any opponent. In fact, Dhoni had remarked about it after the first qualifier: “We have been a very good team over the past ten seasons, but it’s more about the dressing room atmosphere. If atmosphere is not good, then players go to different directions. But somehow, we have managed to keep our boys on track.”
Hyderabad’s journey to the final too has a lot to do with team spirit. Their skipper Kane Williamson has done a remarkable job as captain and as a consistent batsman. He lifted the team from the setback of losing their captain David Warner to the ball-tampering scandal and rallied them into a fighting unit. He impressed on his team the importance of fighting hard in every match to the end.
Williamson candidly admitted that fact after beating Kolkata. “As a team, we fight till the last ball, we showed that today. Someone like Rashid is the perfect example of that. Outstanding talent, but the win was a team effort. Team’s fighting effort is the attitude we want to see,” he said.
Hence an intense battle from the outset is in the offing as both teams have proved that they are the two best performers in the current edition of the IPL having notched the maximum number of wins.