Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s astute captaincy in canary yellow will be Chennai Super Kings’ biggest weapon against a clinical Kolkata Knight Riders, whose troika of top-notch spinners promise to hold the aces in the high-octane Indian Premier League final in Dubai on Friday (October 15). If numbers are anything to go by, then CSK, in their astonishing ninth final appearance in 12 editions (they were suspended in two), are certain to start favourites against Kolkata Knight Riders on ‘Dussehra’ day but in terms of trophies, there isn’t much of a difference.
CSK have three titles with five final defeats while KKR have won both their finals under the mercurial Gautam Gambhir. No team has mastered the art of reaching finals like Dhoni’s CSK.
But KKR will definitely be in the hunt since they won one of the most exciting high-scoring summit clash back in 2012 where they chased a target of 190 with two balls to spare. On Friday, CSK’s chances of winning a fourth title will depend on how well they handle the 12 overs from KKR’s spin trio of Varun Chakravarthy (economy rate 6.40), Shakib Al Hasan (ER:6.64) and Sunil Narine (ER:6.44), who have been outstanding in this tournament.
In fact, Shakib’s all-round abilities have provided more balance to KKR during the business end once Andre Russell sustained a hamstring injury.
Dhoni’s captaincy mantra is simple – rely on experience as IPL is not a finishing school or place to groom youngsters however talented they may be. He groomed Ruturaj Gaikwad when the pressure of qualification was off his back in 2020 and the Pune lad has played freely.
He has scored three half centuries and with his rise, Dhoni laid the groundwork for not just next year but many more to come for his franchise.
— Chennai Super Kings – Mask Pdu Whistle Pdu! (@ChennaiIPL) October 15, 2021
There is abundant experience in the CSK ranks. The skipper himself is on the other side of 40 with Dwayne Bravo at 38, Faf du Plessis at 37, Ambati Rayudu (36) Robin Uthappa a few weeks short of his 36th birthday along with Moeen Ali (34) and Ravindra Jadeja (32).
Dhoni is a master at maneuvering resources. An example of it this IPL was his “right-hand man” and a true-blue IPL legend Raina being dropped.
CSK: The major reason for CSK’s success in IPL 2021 is the resounding start given by Ruturaj Gaikwad (603 runs) and Faf du Plessis (547 runs). The pair have complemented each other throughout the tournament and have been the most impressive opening partnership in the tournament, by far. Along with this, MS Dhoni at the helm continues to be an influential figure in the team. His leadership, bowling changes, and backing people to the hilt have worked wonders in the tournament. The bowlers, especially Shardul Thakur, have been clinching wickets at crucial times.
KKR: They have been a complete transformation of how they were in the first half of the tournament in India. Such has been the resurgent ride that they moved from seventh to fourth place in the points table and now find themselves in contention for the IPL trophy. Their opening pair of Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill have been impressive. The bowlers have been efficient with Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarth, and Sunil Narine doing the job with utmost precision.
CSK: The form of middle-order batters is a big headache for the team despite Robin Uthappa soothing the concerns with a half-century and Dhoni finishing off the match with a quick cameo. If the openers don’t get a good start, then Chennai are in trouble with the bat. With the ball, if the dew sets in, then their bowling attack gets nullified and become toothless.
KKR: The form with the bat of their senior players Eoin Morgan and Dinesh is a major cause of concern. In the Qualifier 2 against Delhi, both Morgan and Karthik registered ducks against their name. Though Rahul Tripathi got them over the line, Kolkata will be concerned about the lack of runs from Morgan and Karthik.
(with agencies inputs)