Defending champions Chennai Super Kings will be banking on home advantage when they take on a formidable Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League final on Saturday.
Chennai, led by India's World Cup winning
captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, have won all of their seven league games at home this season and have lost just once in 12 matches over two editions.
Conditions at the Chidambaram stadium suit Chennai perfectly, leading to speculation that the low and slow wicket has been specially prepared for the home side.
The Chennai franchise is owned by N. Srinivasan, secretary and president-elect of the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), which owns and runs the IPL.
Chennai coach Stephen Fleming however believes that irrespective of the home advantage, his side will have to slug it out against a determined opposition.
"What we have picked is a side for these conditions, and we are very proud that we were smart enough to pick a side that would compete well at home," said the former New Zealand captain.
"We certainly don't take our home advantage for granted. We are going to have to work equally as hard because the team we will play in the final know they have got to play well to beat us at home.
"We have played some good cricket here. So if you wanted to play the final, it'd certainly be here for us."
For Chennai, the biggest threat comes from Chris Gayle, the West Indies opener who has been on a roll ever since being snapped up by Bangalore as a replacement for the injured Dirk Nannes.
The muscular left-hander has scored 608 runs from just 11 innings to emerge as the highest run-getter in the Twenty20 competition ahead of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar, the Mumbai Indians skipper, was all praise for Gayle who slaughtered his bowlers during a whirlwind 89-run knock off 47 balls on Friday to carry Bangalore into the final.
"All credit to Gayle for the way he batted," Tendulkar said after Mumbai crashed to a 43-run defeat to Bangalore to bow out of the tournament. "The way Gayle started, that set the tone for them."
Bangalore captain Daniel Vettori hoped Gayle would repeat his magic once again and help the side bag their maiden IPL title after ending up as losing finalists in the 2009 edition.
"It's certainly not easy to bowl to Gayle, he has been a great asset for us," said the Kiwi left-arm spinner. "Conditions are going to suit the Chennai Super Kings in the final but we are up for it."
The final will draw curtains on a tournament that began on April 8, just five days after the World Cup, spanning over seven weeks and 74 matches.
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