Clash of the titans: SRH, CSK vie for IPL glory

As the teams return to the Wankhede Stadium to battle it out in the big final, fans will hope for yet another intense affair between the two most consistent sides in the IPL this season.

Gearing up: Suresh Raina in conversation with Mike Hussey at a practice session before the final.   -  Vivek Bendre

When Sunrisers Hyderabad and Chennai Super Kings, the teams that finished at the top of the standings in the league stage of the Indian Premier League (IPL), faced each other at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday, it was billed as a battle between the captain cool M. S. Dhoni and his cooler counterpart Kane Williamson. While both the leaders had little impact with the willow, two other international captains in the match emerged as stand-out performers. Afghanistan's Rashid Khan gave Sunrisers a good hope for defending a below-par total before South Africa captain Faf du Plessis ran away with the game for Chennai Super Kings.

Star Wars: M. S. Dhoni vs Kane Williamson

As both the teams return to the same venue on Sunday for the big final, fans will hope for yet another intense affair between the two most consistent sides in the IPL this season. Super Kings, a bunch of ageing stars, will be the fresher of the two teams, having rested and trained in the maximum city for four days. Sunrisers, meanwhile, will hope to carry the momentum after stunning Kolkata Knight Riders in its own backyard during Friday’s virtual semifinal.

Watch: IPL 2018 Final: How the numbers stack up

Fighting the odds

Despite the reputation of being former champions, both Super Kings and Sunrisers were more than a little edgy at the start of the season seven weeks ago. While Super Kings was returning to the IPL fold after serving a two-year suspension in the aftermath of the 2013 IPL spot-fixing scandal, Sunrisers was forced to elevate Williamson as captain with David Warner’s suspension by Cricket Australia for his involvement in sandpaper-gate.

 

The effects of the setbacks were hardly seen on the field as both the teams remained in the top half of the table right through the tournament. Moreover, Dhoni and Williamson had their stand-out seasons with the willow, thus helping their team-mates take some time to settle. While Dhoni would be hoping for his army of veterans to sizzle one last time, Williamson would be banking on Rashid and Shikhar Dhawan to keep up the good work along with the best pace unit of the tournament.

Rayudu vs Rashid

While Super Kings would be hoping to get early inroads into the Sunrisers batting order and expose a fragile middle order, Dhoni's men will be banking on in-form Ambati Rayudu to tackle an in-form Rashid. Besides Rashid, Sunrisers will be hoping for lead pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar to rise to the occasion come Sunday.

 

If the past seasons have any bearing on the game, the team in yellow will enjoy an advantage. After all, it will be Dhoni's boys' seventh appearance in a final in the nine seasons it has featured in IPL. The most successful IPL outfit will thus hope to catapult Sunrisers and join Mumbai Indians in the club of teams with three IPL titles. Sunrisers has also enjoyed an impressive run since making its debut in 2013. Williamson's warriors will be eyeing to repeat its 2016 title by pipping the favourite.

Irrespective of the outcomes, fans will be hoping for a thriller like Tuesday. If both the teams can live up to the expectation, it will be a fitting end to yet another dazzling season of IPL.

Support Sportstar


Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos