NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 has been played in two parts this season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and after a long wait, the final is finally here. The summit clash will see MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings clash with Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.
MS Dhoni-led CSK has won the IPL title thrice and after putting on a dismal show in the 2020 season in UAE, the side made a remarkable comeback this year and some fearless cricket from the franchise has seen Dhoni’s men reach the finals.
Dhoni might have managed to score just 114 runs from 15 matches this season, but he rose like a phoenix when the team needed him most and his best knock came in Qualifier 1 against Delhi Capitals. He scored 18 runs from six balls, rolling back time, giving fans a perfect nostalgia trip as the Chennai franchise roared into the final. His innings even got Virat Kohli to label Dhoni as the “greatest finisher ever”.
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, and Dwayne Bravo have all played their roles to perfection and under Dhoni’s leadership, the bunch has proved to be good on days when it has mattered.
Moving to KKR, Eoin Morgan’s side was completely down and out in the India leg as the side had won just two games out of seven. However, travelling to the UAE brought about a change in fortunes.
Venkatesh Iyer’s inclusion provided the much-needed boost to the batting lineup and the Kolkata-based franchise has been playing fearless cricket. Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, and Rahul Tripathi have done their job too this season.
However, Eoin Morgan’s form remains a concern as the left-handed batter has not played any innings of substance this season. In Qualifier 2 against Delhi, Morgan had a perfect chance to guide the side home, but he was not able to do that, and in the end, it was Tripathi who somehow took KKR over the line in a thriller.
Sunil Narine and Varun Chakravarthy have acted as perfect partners in crime and the duo has spun a web over opponents this season and it would be interesting to see whether the likes of Gaikwad and Faf manage to get better of them.
KKR might also have the services of Andre Russell for the final and if that indeed happens, the side might just prove to have too much ammunition for Dhoni’s side. However, looking at how Dhoni has led the side this season, one cannot bet against the man who has a knack for keeping his cool under the most intense situations.
It will undoubtedly be a clash of two top-quality teams come Friday.
Chennai Super Kings: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Moeen Ali, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood, Suresh Raina, Imran Tahir, Jason Behrendorff, Krishnappa Gowtham, Lungi Ngidi, Mitchell Santner, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, N Jagadeesan, KM Asif, Harishankar Reddy, Dominic Drakes, Bhagath Varma, Karn Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Sunil Narine, Shakib Al Hasan, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Harbhajan Singh, Tim Southee, Andre Russell, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Kuldeep Yadav, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Sheldon Jackson, Sandeep Warrier, Tim Seifert, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Vaibhav Arora.