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IPL Final 2019: Running on loop - CSK, MI rivalry awaits new climax

How consistent have they been? This will be the fourth IPL final featuring MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma as opposing captains in 12 editions.

cricket Updated: May 12, 2019 09:44 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
File image of Lasith Malinga, MS Dhoni(PTI)

You don’t have to look beyond Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians to realize that monotony can be an undesired side-effect of consistency. In a league that was once expanded to accommodate 10 teams, these two teams are so far ahead of the pack that it borders on the boring now.

We’ve lost the thrill of unpredictability, but the upside is that we’ve gained in the quality of cricket. Sunday will be another date to remember as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians meet with an eye on their fourth title and nothing to separate them again.

How consistent have they been? This will be the fourth IPL final featuring MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma as opposing captains in 12 editions.

ALSO READ: Ahead of IPL final, Rohit speaks about workload management, WC preparation

Chennai Super Kings, banned for two years on charges of match-fixing, have reached the final eight times in 10 editions. Mumbai Indians have done it five times. Frankly, had it not been for Kolkata Knight Riders’ wins in 2012 and 2014, you could almost be mistaken into believing the IPL for a two-franchise show.

What separates them from the rest? For starters, no other franchise has been able to build an ardent fan base like CSK and MI. Home advantage for these two teams not only mean the imposing turfs at Wankhede or Chepauk but also the 13th man in the form of bouncing seas of blue and yellow.

No other team song has permeated a city’s cultural and sporting fabric like ‘Whistle Podu’ has for Chennai. And there can be no bigger pull for fans than Sachin Tendulkar himself waving at them from billboards in Mumbai. Till date, CSK and MI are also the only two franchises to have had documentary series made on their storied journey.

Bidding for and retaining a strong Indian core over the years too have been a hallmark of these two teams. Like Suresh Raina, who has been Dhoni’s deputy in, well, forever. Same goes for Ravindra Jadeja, or R Ashwin, who was with CSK till 2015. Murali Vijay, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Mohit Sharma too have been playing in yellow for varying years now. The phasing out of Indian players has been more visible in Mumbai Indians but that has not come at the cost of quality. They started out with Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Abhishek Nayar and Dhawal Kulkarni as the core but continued to incorporate important players like Sharma, Zaheer Khan, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav and the Pandya brothers over the years.

And then there is this ability to script dizzying comebacks. Several seasons bear testimony to how Mumbai Indians reached the playoffs after nightmare starts that left them with must-win scenarios in the league phase.

ALSO READ: Relive previous MI vs CSK championship clashes

Chennai Super Kings too thrive in similar conditions. In fact, when Dhoni was asked on taking the longer route to the final after losing the first qualifier to Mumbai Indians, he said: “It’s the usual route, last year was the exception,” referring to the 2018 season when CSK got an shorter passage to the final after beating finalists Sunrisers Hyderabad in the first qualifier.

There can’t be a better advertisement for the Indian Premier League than having two teams of such pedigree in the final. Almost equal in every department, it should boil down to the zeal to win an unprecedented fourth title. And though Mumbai Indians have enjoyed a better win rate in the final, this Chennai Super Kings team looks adamant to make it two in two, something they haven’t achieved since 2011.

Much will hinge on their captains as well. Due a big innings, Sharma can take a mile if given an inch.

But with runs in tow, apart from being sharp as ever behind the wickets, Dhoni too has shown he is not yet done with this format.

First Published: May 12, 2019 09:21 IST