The Trophy Heist- KKR or CSK? IPL Final

So, who is your bet to win the IPL this year? Is it Chennai, rejuvenated by the last over blitzkrieg in the qualifier one by their ever-reliable skipper who had been just a shadow of his glorious self before those pyro-techniques against Delhi? Or is it Kolkata, looking almost invincible in this leg being held outside India? Let us look at both the teams very closely.

Everyone had outrightly rejected the chances of CSK to play in the final this year after their abysmal show in the previous edition. The firepower of the daddy’s army had dried up because of the age of the soldiers, it was argued. In fact, the probable eleven which is scheduled to face off KKR tomorrow has not less than five players who age over thirty-five at least. Moin Ali is also on the borderline and that makes the figure six. The average age of the team is consistently the highest in the tournament in the past few years. But does age actually matter in a tournament like this? Did age deter Dhoni from hitting those mammoth shots in the previous match when it mattered the most? Did age deter Faf Du Plessis from becoming the 4th highest run-getter in this edition of the tournament? Remember, many of the players conserve their energy throughout the year just for playing and shining in the IPL and as the workload on them is negligible otherwise, age is not going to be a deterring factor for them.

Add to it, the firepower of Ruturaj Gaikwad who is presently second in the contention to win the Orange Cap for the next one year and if he can score only 24 tomorrow, he will be eventually the winner of it. Uthappa almost secured his berth in the playing eleven for the final after his solid knock the other day. Agreed, Rayadu and Ali both are unreliable and Bravo as a batsman is now a thing of the past. You cannot rely on Dhoni to win matches again with so little batting time and such a poor strike rate overall in the current edition. But then, you never know the maverick skipper. On his day, he can change the complexion of any game in just a couple of overs. And remember, he is a veteran in playing the finals of IPL and none knows it better than him to accomplish the mission in the utmost cold-blooded manner. Jadeja can be tricky with the bat as well and his fireworks may build the differences between the losing and the winning sides.

CSK bowling has been disciplined and even though they do not boast of having any bowler to turn things around singlehandedly, the overall bowling look is healthy and can hold the feeble KKR middle order from scoring a massive total.

Now coming to KKR, they have their own share of problems. After the first leg of the tournament, none had expected them to do anything good once the second leg rolled off. But that’s what they are. Full of surprises. Remember the last time they had lifted the trophy? They had won nine consecutive matches to bag the tag of the Champions. Their charismatic owner is having his own share of troubles now and maybe the team members are missing the pep talks of the Badshah. But they all are on a mission to prove something for the pride of their owner. And that is what the X-factor that might just see them through.

The bowling lineup of KKR is the most disciplined in the UAE leg of the tournament. Sunil Narine is back in his pristine form with both the bat and the ball. His new style of bowling is not just checking runs but also earning him wickets at a strike rate much more than the previous few editions of the tournament. He is lethal with his turns and the mysterious deliveries are back which may become the prime reason of concern for the men in yellow. The same can be said about Varun Chakraborty, the mystery spinner whose wizardry is yet to be solved by the opponents and if he is used well by Virat Kohli, which I doubt will happen, he can be a lethal weapon for India in the ensuing T20 World Cup, too. If Russel is fit, he is an automatic choice in the lineup. But the question is whom will he replace? Shakib has been paying good dividends for the side ever since his induction in the lineup. And Captain Morgan is the only non-performing asset of the side. Rationally, it is the skipper who should be replaced on the basis of the merit of his abysmal performance. But will KKR have that much courage to change the skipper in the Final? Besides, Morgan’s captaincy so far has been innovative. So it looks like Shakib is going to be the one missing out tomorrow. Mavi too has been gaining confidence with every passing outing and even though he lacks sheer pace, he has the uncanny knack of picking up wickets at the most crucial stages of the game.

Batting has been an area of concern for the men in purple. The opening duo has been brilliant and ever since the induction of Venkatesh Iyer in the side, the balance has been much more favorable. Gill also looks to be in sublime touch in the past few matches. Even though the management under Kohli does not rely much on him for the Indian side, I still believe that he is the best batting prospect for us for the days ahead in all the formats. He will be the Joe Root of India, I presume. Tripathy and Rana are good when they bat first and maybe poor chasers as it was evident the other day against DC. Morgan as already said is a liability with his current form. Karthik is not reliable. Sunil Narine cannot be trusted as a batsman even though his returns are infinite if he starts unfolding himself. Russel if makes a comeback can be the game changer and can alone take away the game and can mask the weaknesses of the middle order.

So, who is going to lift the trophy? My heart will go with KKR not just because I am a Bengali, but also because one of the men I admire the most in India is the illustrious owner of this franchise and a victory this year may alleviate some of the pain he is suffering right now because of … Forget it. A part of the brain says it is going to be CSK just because of A Man Called MSD. On a concluding note, I wish MSD to play well and KKR to win it in style.


Read the review of The Chestnut Man here

Read “The Forgotten Bengali” here
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