Mumbai: High on form, Mumbai Indians will take on gutsy Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) final here on Sunday amid the murky row which has cast a shadow over cricket`s biggest money spinner.
The happening of the last couple of weeks overshadowed the cricketing action with several financial irregularities surfacing in the IPL.
Like the two semi-finals, the final match of the cash-rich league has turned into a sideshow with the media spotlight on the scandal circumventing the event.
The title contest promises to be a pot-boiler and the two teams are likely to put on an invigorating show. After a topsy-turvy league phase, the semifinal line-up was clear only in the penultimate league match and goes to prove how intensely was it fought.
Going by the form book, Mumbai Indians have an upper hand, having qualified for the finals with 20 points from 10 wins. But their captain Sachin Tendulkar, who celebrated his 37th birthday Saturday, is doubtful for the match as he hurt his right hand in the semi-finals and had to go for five stitches.
Tendulkar has been inspirational on the field and also emerged as the top run scorer with 570 runs at an average of 47.50. Needless to say, Tendulkar`s absence will hurt the team.
The young brigade in Mumbai Indians -- Saurabh Tiwary, Ambati Rayudu and Shikhar Dhawan -- has performed exceptionally well for the team. In the semi-final, Tiwary and Rayudu pulled the team out of a crisis situation. Then, there`s hard-hitting West Indies batsman Kieron Pollard, whose clean strikes towards the end has given the much needed thrust to the Mumbai Indians innings.
Mumbai Indians have a competitive bowling line-up with pacers Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan and Dilhara Fernando. Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh is in great form with 17 wickets and is the second in the list of wicket-takers. Pollard has been useful with his medium pace in the middle overs. The Mumbai team has four of the top 10 wicket-takers of this season.
Super Kings, on the other hand, have had their ups and downs in the torunament, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni`s outfit has the firepower to stand up to Mumbai Indians.
Super Kings have been the most consistent performer in all three season of the IPL. This will be their second final after losing to Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural edition.
Their batting, however, has not been consistent this year. Murali Vijay at the top of the order has been brilliant in the later half of the tournament. His capability to hit effortless sixes has been a treat to watch. So far, he has struck 24 sixes, second to Robin Uthappa (27).
Suresh Raina is Super Kings` best batsman with 463 runs in 15 matches.
Dhoni and Subramaniam Badrinath have pulled the team out of trouble in couple of matches as well. Dhoni played a brilliant knock in their do-or-die match against Kings XI Punjab.
Super Kings have benifited from their formidable bowling unit. Australain paceman Doug Bollinger is sharing the bulk of the load as a strike bowler, although he joined the team in the later half of the tournament. He has 11 wickets from only seven games. Their spin department led by the great Muttiah Muralitharan (14 wickets) has won them matches. The Sri Lankan have got a good support from Ravichandran Ashwin (13), and Shadab Jakati (10).
It promises to be an exciting contest, with both teams having three wins against each other.