Who could ever have imagined that the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) would benefit from having the 2019 final moved away from the MA Chidambaram Stadium? Such is the dominance of the Mumbai Indians (MI) over CSK at the venue, a shift to Hyderabad is more likely to play to CSK’s advantage in this year’s IPL climax on Sunday night.
Anything like the last final in Hyderabad which saw a low-scoring, one-run win for Mumbai in a thriller from start to finish, would be the perfect end to a mesmerising tournament.
Given that the top four fielded by CSK in their qualifier win over Delhi on Friday boasts nearly 28,000 T20 runs combined, it has been a shock to see the bowling unit largely responsible for their place in the final this time around. That said, there is no doubting that the men in yellow boast big-stage players: Suresh Raina averages 40.17 in his seven IPL grand finals (241 runs, SR 158.55), while Shane Watson’s 117no from 58 balls got them home in 2018.
Given that only 31 of the 80 total wickets claimed in Hyderabad this year have been by slow bowlers, expect a great deal of responsibility to fall on the shoulders of Deepak Chahar (19 wickets, ER 7.53rpo), who has picked up only four wickets from four IPL playoff matches.
Having won their previous three titles in 2013 and 2015 as well as 2017, those who believe in omens and patterns could be forgiven for having already written in Mumbai as the 2019 champions. Their path to the final has been truly phenomenal: they completed the ‘double’ over CSK in the regular season before winning once again in Chennai (their sixth straight victory at the venue) to claim their spot as deserved favourites to claim a record fourth title.
Perhaps most concerningly for Chennai, Mumbai have not been especially dependent on one or even two key players throughout the season, with a healthy spread of runs and wickets amongst a deep talent pool. In fact, they join CSK as the only other franchise to boast five batsmen with 200+ season runs and five bowlers with 11+ wickets in 2019.
MI have won only four of eight trips to Hyderabad (compared with three from five for their opponents), but a commanding H2H record – which has seen them take out seven of the last eight dating back to 2015 – will surely be playing on the minds of the CSK squad.
CSK vs MI T20 – Probable XI
Probable playing XI
Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jayant Yadav , Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah
Chennai Super Kings
Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir.
CSK vs MI T20 – Players to watch out for
|Lasith Malinga (MI) has demonstrated some deadly adaptability with age, with seven of his 15 wickets in 2019 being collected from slower off-cutters. Averaging 1.64 wickets per game against CSK, he is primed to make an impact.|
|Shane Watson has compiled only 51 runs in five all-time innings against MI as a CSK player (high score: 16), and with the likely intention of bowing out in the 2020 edition, a title-winning performance will be key to his value.|
|Four of the seven MOTM awards at Hyderabad have been collected by bowlers, compared with 28.81% of the total season awards.|
|CSK’s 2019 average powerplay score of 37.5 is by far the lowest in the league, while MI’s 48.5 is the third-lowest.|
|MI have won six of their last eight matches as a favourite, while CSK have lost all three 2019 matches as the outsider.|