Indian T20 League Final: Mumbai, Chennai engage in search of supremacy
The 12th edition of the Indian T20 League will draw curtains on a riveting and action-packed season of T20 cricket with a gigantic title clash between Mumbai and Chennai at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad tonight. With both teams chasing a record fourth title, here we preview the Grand Finale.
Having beaten Chennai thrice this season, Mumbai will start as odds-on favourites in tonight’s title showdown. The Rohit Sharma-led team have won three of their last four finals, including the two against Chennai in 2013 and 2015, and will have their noses in front given their overall performance in the campaign so far. If we look at the overall head-to-head record between the two, Mumbai has a clear advantage and will be tipped to outclass MS Dhoni and Co. for a record fourth crown.
While Mumbai’s current squad is well-balanced and boasts of many match-winners, the Pandya brothers have been instrumental in their team’s success this season and will be the X-factor for Rohit Sharma in tonight’s final. While Hardik has been lethal with the bat and ball (386 runs and 14 wickets), Krunal has been effective in his bowling performances, having scalped 11 wickets in 15 games with an economy rate of 6.88, thus far.
The defending champions are making their eighth final appearance and their second successive since returning from a two-year suspension. The MS-Dhoni led team will certainly be the underdogs in this contest, for they have lost five of their eight matches. The batting order has been a worrying concern for Chennai this season, but if they are to replicate their performance against Delhi in the second Qualifier, one can safely say that the southern giants will possibly retain their title.
Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson, who together notched up individual half-centuries in the game against Delhi, will be poised to play with a similar mindset against Mumbai and set the momentum in Chennai’s favour. Another player to watch out for is Imran Tahir, who needs two wickets to become only the second spinner in history to bag the Purple Cap.
In a high-stakes match such as this, a bright start will prove beneficial for either team on a pitch that has produced three 200+ totals this season. While it promises to be a batting paradise, the pacers can also wreak havoc, as Mumbai’s Alzarri Joseph picked up a record six-wicket haul against Hyderabad earlier in the campaign.
Gear up for the ultimate ‘El Classico’.
Words: William Paul
Images: IPL / Mumbai Indians