IPL 8 Final preview: Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings

Mumbai Indians (MI) meets Chennai Super Kings (CSK) tonight in the final of the Indian Premier League at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. This is the fourth time these two teams are meeting in this IPL edition. CSK has won the first one; while MI has won the next two. This will be the biggest match of the lot. Whoever wins this fixture will have the bragging rights till the next IPL season. MI is in awesome form, but MS Dhoni and his men know how to win the win games. Don’t miss the action: sparks will fly.

Recent form

Both the teams have struggled at some point in the tournament. Mumbai Indians lost the first four games of the tournament. But they have won nine of the next eleven matches. CSK, on the other hand, has won six of the first seven matches. However, they have managed just four wins in the next nine games.

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You can see that the Mumbai outfit is gradually improving as the tournament progresses. They are peaking at the right moment. The Chennai team has gone off the boil towards the end. Their great run in the beginning was good enough to secure the top league position. They are extremely good at home, winning six of their seven home matches. Guess who inflicted the only home defeat for CSK? Well, it is Mumbai Indians.

Background

Chennai Super Kings does not have a great record in Kolkata. They are on a three-match losing spree at this ground. In 2013, these two teams met in the IPL final at Eden Gardens. Mumbai Indians emerged victorious in that match.

MI has a better head to head record against CSK: 12-11. Dhoni’s men have won more matches than they lost against all the other IPL teams. Only against MI do they struggle in this aspect.

These two teams have played more games with each other than with the other teams in the league. The familiarity is certainly breeding contempt, at least among the online supporters of the teams. The emergence of Mumbai Indians as an IPL super power irks the CSK supporters. There is clearly a bit of needle between these two teams as well as between their fans.

Preview – CSK

Their batting still remains worry, despite the successful chase against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the eliminator. Michael Hussey played a handy knock in that match. However, Dwyane Smith and Suresh Raina had a poor game. Faf du Plessis and MS Dhoni managed to score crucial runs, but were patchy at the crease.

Bowling appears their strong suit now, with Ashish Nehra, R Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo bowling really well. The pitch in Kolkata must assist bowlers – both spinners and pacers. How the Chennai bowlers perform against Mumbai batters will be the single most crucial factor of this match.

Preview – MI

The team has managed to find heroes whenever there was a need of one. Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Lendl Simmons and Lasith Malinga have stepped up the game at various stages. Now it is up to two of their best Indian batsmen – Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu – to steer them to tournament glory. Rohit Sharma has a good record in Kolkata. He would hope that his love affair will extend for one more match at least.

Players to watch out for

Pollard and Raina share the honor of winning the most man-of-the-match awards in MI–CSK clashes. They have won three man-of-the-match awards each. They will be eager to stamp their mark in this fixture as well.

The skippers too will be looking to play decisive roles in this match. Both Rohit Sharma and Dhoni will be eying match-winning knocks.

Prediction

This is a tough one for prediction. MI has a slight edge following their win in the playoffs. Still, this will be a close contest. A missed chance or an inspired bowling change can alter the course of the match.