MA Chidambaram Stadium at Chepauk awaits a cracker of a contest when Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings lock horns for the title in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League on Sunday. Zeenews.com’s Nishad Vellur brings to you key duels to watch out for in the final battle of the T20 extravaganza…
Gautam Gambhir vs MS Dhoni
With his vast experience in the IPL, captain cool handles pressure more than any of the captains in the tournament. The fact that Chennai featured in four final matches out of five testifies the same. However, Gambhir is not someone known for his composure but has been able to lift the team’s morale with his batting and towed out the team from defeat with his match-winning knocks more often than not in the league stage. Even after reaching the final with a superior performance in the league stages, KKR will face a resurgent Super Kings, who announced their arrival in the second stage of the tournament on back of two great victories against two most consistent sides in the tournament. Gambhir’s, and KKR’s, fate depends on how the Delhi lad handles the pressure.
Ben Hilfenhaus vs Brendon McCullum
The battle between the Kiwi and the Aussie would be one treat to watch as Ben Hilfenhaus, who joined the team late, provided a boost to CSK’s bowling department. After featuring in 8 matches out of 18, he added 12 to his wickets tally. On the other hand, McCullum is yet to fire in the current season and managed just one half century. But he could be a dangerous prospect on his day and has the capacity to demolish any kind of bowling attacks when on fire.
Dwayne Bravo vs Jacques Kallis
Bravo’s contribution has been vital in the team’s late upsurge. His ability to raise the tempo with the bat coming in the middle order and later following it up as a wicket-taking bowler has given CSK the necessary push towards their bid for a third straight title. He holds the 13th position in the highest run getters list with 371 runs and has 14 wickets so far in the tournament. Kallis has scored 340 runs with a strike rate of 101.49 so far in the tournament. However, the South African veteran is not at his usual best as the strike rate shows age is catching up with the star all-rounder.
R Ashwin vs Yusuf Pathan
Ashwin is the star spinner in the CSK camp and the fact that he is playing in his own backyard can make the spinner more lethal. Yusuf Pathan has failed to live up to the expectations so far in the tournament but has got the backing of the skipper. However, he hit form in their qualifiers against Delhi with a 21-ball 40 and followed it up with a wicket. He was awarded the player of the match. Kolkata will be banking on a similar or a better performance from the all-rounder in their quest for maiden title.
Murali Vijay vs Sunil Narine
Another high profile duel will be between Murali Vijay and KKR’s mystery man Sunil Narine. Vijay was another off-colour player in the league but found enough backing of the captain. He repaid it with a match-winning hundred in their thrashing of Delhi on familiar conditions. Super Kings will be anticipating another similar show from the Chennai lad to take home another title. However, on a turning Chennai track Sunil Narine will be the last spinner Super Kings’ batsmen would want to play against. The biggest hurdle for the home team will be none other than the West Indian spin wizard.
First Published: Sunday, May 27, 2012, 12:22