IPL Final 2019, MI vs CSK: MS Dhoni’s biggest worry and Hardik Pandya’s nemesis - Top 5 player battles
Despite all the uncertainties and unpredictability surrounding it, IPL has also been true to consistency. One doesn’t have to look too far beyond the two finalists – Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings – of the 12th season for an example. This will be the fourth IPL final involving MI and CSK and the 8th overall for CSK whereas it will be MI’s 5th appearance in the IPL final. No matter how cluttered the league table looks like, MI and CSK have always found a way to make it to the top. On Sunday, in the IPL final at Hyderabad both of them have a chance to become the best of the best by winning their fourth IPL title – the most by any team.
It can’t be disputed that Mumbai go into the final as the favourites, having beaten CSK as many as three times earlier in the tournament including in the Qualifier 1 at Chennai on Tuesday.
However, statistics count for little going into the title fight with both teams being in the situation before multiple times.
Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai can certainly take confidence out of the fact that they have won three out of the four finals they have been part of, including the two against CSK in 2013 and 2015. For three-time champions CSK, who have entered their eighth final, it has been another remarkable season after last year when they made a triumphant return having serving a two-year suspension. Whatever the outcome may be, the final here will add another memorable chapter to their longtime rivalry.
Here are the top five player battles to look out for in the IPL final between MI and CSK.
MS Dhoni vs Krunal Pandya
Dhoni has been an adhesive between the top and lower order of CSK. Take out Dhoni and the CSK batting looks pale, weak. Dhoni has been at his best in the last 5 overs of the innings. The CSK captain has scored the most runs in the last 5 overs of IPL than anybody else. He has a set approach for that, he takes time to settle in, assesses the conditions and then goes for the onslaught towards the end. But that might not be easy against MI in the final of IPL 2019. Mumbai Indians have two very good spinners in Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar who can stop Dhoni on his tracks. Krunal in particular has given Dhoni a hard time. Dhoni may not have got out but he only has a strike rate of 89.47 against Krunal. And in the final, he might not have the luxury to play Krunal out as leggie Chahar would be operating from the other end with his own set of tricks.
Shane Watson vs Jasprit Bumrah
CSK have had a set pattern of building a strong foundation for big hitters like Dhoni and Bravo. Shane Watson has been in the centre of that plan with opening partner Faf du Plessis. MI have somehow got to find a way to separate Watson and du Plessis early and who better than Jasprit Bumrah to do it. Bumrah has a very good record against Watson. Not only has he dismissed the Australian twice but he also concedes less than a run-a-ball.
Faf du Plessis vs Lasith Malinga
We will stick our neck out and say this could determine the winner of the IPL final. Such has been the impact of du Plessis in the last few matches of the season that it has become imperative to dismiss him early for any side wishing to beat CSK. MI has to bank on the experience of Lasith Malinga for that. Du Plessis has a horrible record against the Sri Lankan legend. He only has a strike rate of 54.84 – the lowest for du Plessis against any bowler in IPL – and has been dismissed twice by Malinga.
Quinton de Kock vs Harbhajan Singh
Quinton de Kock has been very dangerous at the top of the order for Mumbai Indians. He has a simple approach of going after the bowling in the Powerplay. He is the main reason why MI have scored 705 runs in the Powerplay, 3rd highest this season. CSK will count on Harbhajan Singh to put the brakes on de Kock. The veteran off spinner got the better of de Kock in the Qualifier 1 a few days ago and the kind of form he is in; there is every possibility of a reoccurrence of the event on Sunday in the final.
Hardik Pandya vs Imran Tahir
No player battle can be completed without the mention of Hardik Pandya. In Anil Kumble’s words he has ‘redefined batting in T20 cricket’ and the numbers prove it. A strike rate of 193 and 28 sixes in the season, Pandya has played the role of a finisher to perfection. But CSK might just have the correct antidote for him in Imran Tahir. The South African leggie who is just two wickets away from snatching the purple cap way from Kagiso Rabada, has enough in his armoury to trouble Pandya. Pandya only has a strike rate of 77 against Tahir and he has been dismissed once.
(With agency inputs)