iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Amol Karhadkar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, April 24, 2010
Forty-two days and 59 matches since the third edition of the Indian Premier League commenced, here we are, waiting for the most important tie of the tournament: the grand finale. As Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, the two best teams of the tournament, will take field at the DY Patil Stadium on Sunday evening. And irrespective of who wins, IPL will have a new champion later that night.

If you go by history, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s boys will have a slight advantage over Sachin Tendulkar’s only because they are the only team to have featured in the knockout stage of each of the three editions. Mahi and Co will surely be hoping that they will be third time lucky in terms of going all the way.

Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, have had their best IPL season thus far. After finishing fifth in the inaugural season and a disappointing seventh in the second, the team not only topped the league stage but also made a short work of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the semifinal.

Still, it will be the home team that will be under pressure. Neither due to form nor the opposition, but because of injury to their two key players - Kieron Pollard and Tendulkar.

Tendulkar, on his 37th birthday, was forced to skip practice, since he is nursing a hand injury he picked up during Wednesday’s semifinal. Instead of having a go at the bowlers, Tendulkar opted to watch his teammates train at Mumbai Cricket Association’s facility at the Bandra-Kurla Complex from the sidelines. Though coach Robin Singh made it clear that the decision will solely be Tendulkar’s, the Orange Cap holder is more likely to bite his nails from the dugout through the evening.

Pollard, on the other hand, appeared to have recovered from his thigh muscle strain. If Tendulkar misses out, Zaheer Khan will get an opportunity to lead a team at the big stage for the first time.

At the end of the day, with so much gloom surrounding the IPL, all that you and I expect is to see the last and best game of this year’s edition. And with so much at stake - the pride and the hefty purse for the winner - the 22 players who will feature in the final will do their best to give us just that. Special