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DLF Indian Premier League Final Preview

The 6 week long cricket extravaganza that is the DLF Indian Premier League comes to an end this weekend as Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians take on the Chennai Super Kings in Navi Mumbai on Sunday (live coverage on ITV4 from 15:30). It is an intriguing matchup between the most consistent team in this year’s competition and a team accurately described by ITV’s Matt Smith as ‘the who knows side.’ Who will win? Sport Report takes a look at Sunday’s matchup.

Mumbai Indians

Mumbai has been the form team throughout IPL3. The Indians comfortably finished top of the table with a record of 10-4 and at least one of those defeats came when they rested players having already qualified. They have impressed in almost every game and have consistently posted competitive totals. Several players have chipped in with runs and they have a potent, well-balanced bowling attack that includes the likes of Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.

Star Man: Who else but the great Sachin Tendulkar? Perhaps the best batsman to ever play the game, the Little Master has been in irresistible form in this year’s IPL. Having hit 561 runs at an average of 51, he is the current holder of the Orange Cap that is awarded to the batsman who scores the most runs in the tournament. In addition to his batting exploits, Tendulkar has done an excellent job of captaining the side, making changes where necessary in the line-up and setting excellent fields. He is however a serious injury doubt for the final having split the webbing between the fingers on his right hand trying to catch a shot from Rahul Dravid in the semi-final. If there is any way Tendulkar can play, he will, but if he does not, he will be a huge loss for Mumbai.

Trump Cards: It is difficult to pick a couple of players who could make the difference for Mumbai as it has been a real team effort for them this year with everyone from star player Tendulkar to young Indian players like Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu making contributions. If any players can really swing it in their favour, they could be Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard. The Sri Lankan fast bowler has been in sensational form taking 13 wickets in this year’s tournament at an average of 22. Furthermore, his economy rate of 7.00 is also impressive. Pollard is now starting to show why the Indians paid so much for him at last year’s auction. The big West Indian can take games away from teams as he can score at an accelerated rate, hitting sixes like there is no tomorrow. He has also impressed in the field and can be relied on to bowl a couple of tight overs.

Chennai Super Kings

The side from southern India have been highly unpredictable in IPL3, looking unbeatable one minute and frankly shambolic the next. They finished third in the group stage on 14 points but only qualified for the semi-final courtesy of their net run rate. They did however, put Deccan Chargers to the sword in the semi finals and should not be discounted. They do have the players to beat any team in the tournament but you just do not know what you are going to get with Chennai.

Star Man: Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The man does it all: bats, keeps wicket and captains the side. He has captained the side magnificently, often designing unique field settings and playing captain’s innings time and time again. This was most in evidence in the final group game at Dharamsala where he hit 54 off just 29 balls, a knock which ultimately gave the Super Kings a place in the semi-final. A highly reliable performer with the bat who is also a first rate wicket keeper, Dhoni is unflappable even under intense pressure. If he is at the top of his game, Chennai have an excellent chance of becoming champions.

Trump Cards: Doug Bollinger and Suresh Raina. Australian paceman Bollinger has been an excellent acquisition for the Super Kings and bowled superbly in the semi-final against Deccan, taking four wickets. If he can get the ball to swing and find the right length, he will be very difficult to put away. Suresh Raina is a consistent performer who is capable of scoring a lot of runs and quickly. He has scored 461 runs so far in this year’s competition at an average of 46. Do not bet against him adding to this total. If these players can perform well and are supported by the likes of Muralidaran and Hayden, Chennai will fancy their chances.

Final Verdict

Mumbai are rightly the favourites going in to Sunday’s match courtesy of their consistency but the injury concerns over Tendulkar are a worry for them. If the Little Master misses out, not only will they miss his runs, but it could be deflating and affect team morale. They are however, far from being a one man team and will still be confident of securing their first crown. Chennai will need to be at their best to beat the Indians and if they are, they might just pull off the upset.

The crucial stage of the match could well be the toss. The pitch at the DY Patil stadium favours teams who bat first, so much so that Mark Butcher said on TV yesterday that he believes the team that wins the toss has a 75% chance of winning. We shall wait and see.

Nick’s Prediction: Chennai win

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