The Grand IPL Finale
As the Joker says it – “Let’s wind the clocks back a year”.
2nd April 2011 – The final of ICC World Cup 2011. India was asked to chase a total of 274 on a decent, typical Wankhede track – A stiff task but not an impossible one. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar walked out to the middle to inaugurate the chase.
Sehwag kicked off the tournament in a brisk manner. Fluency and aggression complimented each other well. Occasionally he played irresponsibly and paid the price for it. But he was still a dangerous man to contend with. He played big innings when it really mattered. But the pressure of the final made him play an irresponsible stroke and he left without making an impact.
With a huge fan following, Tendulkar had the burden of a nation on his shoulders. He obliged to take the responsibility though and played consistent cricket throughout the tournament. The fact that he had never won a World Cup lifted expectations to such a level that the pressure of the final got the better of him and he walked out of the Wankhede much to the disappointment of a lot of fans.
Kohli was aggressive throughout the tournament. In the final, he came in a situation which demanded intelligent cricket. He got off to a good start in the crunch game against the Sangakarra-led side. But ultimately the pressure got the better of his aggression and he left the job uncompleted.
Then came Gautam Gambhir, with a bat in his hand and ‘intent’ in his head. He was here for a reason – to realize the dreams of millions and he was going to finish the job.
Kohli’s dismissal gave MS Dhoni a chance to prove his worth and he made every use of the opportunity with a determined performance in a crunch situation.
Gambhir and Dhoni stole the show with a performance filled with intent and determination. India lifted the cup!
Do you see any resemblance? Maybe you don’t. Allow me to show you……. IPL 5!!!!
Team Sehwag kicked off the tournament in a brisk manner. Fluency and aggression complimented each other well. Occasionally they played irresponsibly against RCB and CSK and they paid the price for it. But they were always a dangerous team to contend with. They played big tremendously well when it really mattered. But the pressure of the eliminator against CSK made them play irresponsibly stroke and they left without making an impact.
With a huge fan following, Team Tendulkar had the burden of a millions on their shoulders. They obliged to take the responsibility though and played consistent cricket throughout the tournament. The fact that they are the most consistent team to never win an IPL lifted expectations to such a level that the pressure of the qualifier against CSK got the better of them and they walked out of the tournament much to the disappointment of a lot of fans.
Team Kohli was aggressive throughout the tournament. In a must win game, they brought themselves into a situation which demanded intelligent cricket. They got off to a good start in the crunch game against the Sangakarra-led side. But ultimately the pressure got the better of their aggression and they left the quest for victory uncompleted.
Now we are left with two gritty men – MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir.
‘Pressure personified’ would flee at the sight of these two men. Such is their nature and the caliber of their game that they bring out the best of themselves at the most difficult of times. It is an absolute pleasure for the cricketing world to have these two men clash at the IPL Final.
‘Intent’ and ‘Determination’ are going to face-off in a match which means so much to both these sides.
Let us take a look at the mini battles that we would witness tonight.
Brendon McCullum vs. Murali Vijay
These two men haven’t been at their best. Consistency has been something that has dawned away from them right throughout this tournament. But that’s not what matters in a final is it? On their day, they can rip the opposition bowling apart. Both these men will be eyeing exactly that!
Gautam Gambhir vs. Micheal Hussey
Both teams will look at these men to give them a reliable start, see off the new ball and then step on the gas before the big hitters take centre stage. Gambhir has been in terrific form all through the tournament and he will have the upper edge over Hussey in this contest.
Manoj Tiwary vs. Suresh Raina
The leader run scorer in the IPL hasn’t done justice to that tag. At times he has shown some great stroke making but this has been no where close to the dominance that Raina exerts on this format. Manoj Tiwary hasn’t been dominating either. But he has been handy at the loss of early wickets. If the new ball does manage to rattle the stumps early on in the innings, both these batsmen will come handy in turning the tables.
Jacques Kallis vs. Dwayne Bravo
A final would always require big names to step up. These two men are purely contributors. They might not be the Gayle-Warner-Steyn type players who can take the game away from the opposition completely. But valuable contributions with both bat and ball will be welcomed by both captains. Bravo’s recent form gives him the edge.
Yusuf Pathan vs. MS Dhoni
Here are the game changers. Pathan made his first impact in the tournament in the previous game against Delhi. In the last two matches, Dhoni has looked different. He has looked to attack right from the beginning. If any of these two monsters are let loose, it could spell disaster for the opposition.
Shakib al Hasan vs. Albie Morkel
In a match when Lee, Hilfenhaus, Narine take big names, a crucial 4 over spell from these two would prove crucial on a slow wicket at Chepauk. Add their big hitting abilities to the picture and these two become very formidable to the result tonight
Sunil Narine vs. Ravichandran Ashwin
This comparison might e a little far-fetched but mind you – Ashwin was as destructive as Narine back in 2010 when he made his global appearance. I wouldn’t be surprised if two years from now, batsman stroll down the pitch and slog Narine over cow corner with ease. Spinners tend to lose their surprise element and get figured out soon….. It’s the fate of spinners in this format! The real question will be how Dhoni and co. deal with Narine. He has the upper hand in this mini battle.
Brett Lee vs. Ben Hilfenhaus
Australia’s past and present when it comes to test cricket. On a slow track, batsmen will look to score well off the first six overs. It all comes down to Ben and Brett to make amends to that trend. Hilfenhaus has been slightly inconsistent but will the final bring the best of him?
Iqbal Abdullah vs. Shadab Jakati
These two slow left arm spinners will have a crucial role to play against right-handers. The slow track at Chepauk has always helped spinners and Jakati’s experience of playing at home should give him the edge over Abdullah.
Chitti vs. RaOne
Not many would deem this rivalry to have a big impact on the match. But here is the crux! KKR has a lot fans because of SRK and you can expect all of them to support their team with the same vengeance as SRK. Rajnikanth might not hold any stakes in CSK but come on… Rajni is worth a bar of gold to every Tamilian and so is CSK. Expect the crowd to play a huge role in this match!!
This match is just too exciting to make any predictions. But here is my word…
I am a believer of destiny. When there has been so much in common between India in World Cup 2011 and IPL 2012, I tend to believe that the trend will continue today. Gambhir did not last till the end in that final while Dhoni did.
I just have a feeling that Team Dhoni might go the distance today!!!