Chennai v Bangalore, IPL 2011, Final, Chennai May 28, 2011

Home advantage and big-match record favour Chennai

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
Despite Chris Gayle's threat looming large, Chennai's perfect home record this season makes them favourites to retain the title

Contrasting strengths for both teams
Chris Gayle's outstanding run of form continued when his superb 89 off 47 balls helped Bangalore upstage Mumbai in their knockout clash. Gayle has single-handedly restored Bangalore's fortunes in this IPL season after they had started badly losing three of their first four matches. Gayle has scored over 600 runs at a stunning average of 76 and a scoring rate of 11.08 in just 11 innings. With an exceptional boundary-run percentage of nearly 81, Gayle has helped boost Bangalore's scoring rate in the first six overs from less than six before he entered the team to nearly 9.50 since. In Virat Kohli, Gayle has found an equally capable partner in the early overs. Kohli has also scored over 500 runs at an average of 47.45 with four fifties. While Gayle failed in the previous game against Chennai, Kohli set up an extremely competitive total with a well-paced 70, but was let down by some poor bowling in the latter half of the Chennai innings.

If Bangalore's top-order batting is a huge threat, in Chennai's case, it is the powerful middle order that has turned matches. In the previous game against Bangalore, MS Dhoni and S Badrinath retrieved the situation after Bangalore had put Chennai in a spot of bother. With the striking power of Albie Morkel and Suresh Raina available, Chennai have been content to start slowly and keep wickets in hand to allow for a strong acceleration in the end overs. Badrinath has been extremely consistent with five half-centuries while Dhoni, who scored 70 in Chennai's heavy defeat against Bangalore in the last league game, has maintained an excellent scoring rate of 9.48 in the tournament.

Gayle/Kohli v Dhoni/Badrinath in IPL 2011
Player Runs SR Avg Boundary% 100/50
Chris Gayle 608 11.08 76.00 80.92 2/3
Virat Kohli 522 7.31 47.45 58.62 0/4
MS Dhoni 370 9.48 46.25 61.08 0/5
S Badrinath 396 7.59 66.00 52.02 0/2

The table below lists the partnership stats for the top-order (1-6) for both teams. While Bangalore clearly have been the more powerful side at the top of the order and have a better scoring-rate and more fifty stands, Chennai have dominated the middle-order partnerships. They have consistently scored faster and accelerated much better in the late overs. The contest could ultimately be one between the explosive top order of Bangalore and the highly reliable middle order of Chennai.

Partnership stats for teams in IPL 2011 (RR, avg, 50+)
Team 1st wicket 2nd wicket 3rd wicket 4th wicket 5th wicket 6th wicket
Chennai 6.15,21.80,3 7.99,37.20,5 8.07,53.84,7 8.92,35.33,4 9.16,31.83,0 9.21,28.66,0
Bangalore 9.90,37.73,5 8.42,56.16,6 6.97,29.81,2 7.90,22.27,1 8.57,34.28,0 9.00,24.00,1

Spinners the key
In an otherwise brilliant tournament, Gayle has had only a couple of failures. While he fell to a rash shot in a huge chase against Punjab, in the game against Chennai, he was dismissed by R Ashwin, who is among the most economical bowlers in the IPL across all seasons. Ashwin's unique ability to bowl restrictively while picking up crucial wickets in the first six overs may prompt Dhoni to employ him against the aggressive Gayle who would prefer some pace on the ball. Bangalore, on the other hand, have been lucky to have Daniel Vettori back for the business end of the tournament. Apart from one bad game against Chennai in the first qualifier, Vettori has been superb and has conceded less than six runs pver over in 12 innings. He picked up three wickets in the game against Mumbai and will undoubtedly be the key for Bangalore in the final.

Vettori v Ashwin in IPL 2011
Bowler Innings ER Wickets Average Boundary% Dot-ball%
Daniel Vettori 12 5.81 12 23.08 47.84 41.25
R Ashwin 15 6.30 17 21.88 41.66 43.22

Chennai marginally ahead
Chennai and Bangalore have faced off ten times in the IPL so far and have been very evenly matches winning five matches each. Chennai though, have the home advantage as they have won two of the three matches played in Chennai. Overall, in the ten matches played, Chennai have been the slightly better side with a batting average of 24.50 and run-rate of 7.71 compared to Bangalore's figures of 23.50 and 7.60. With a strong track record in the previous years in knockout games and a 2-1 head-to-head advantage in this season's tournament, Chennai will head into the final as slight favourites.

Final-overs bowling crucial
Bangalore have by far been the best batting team in the first six-over period primarily because of Gayle's heroics at the top. His hitting has helped set up a strong platform from which they have inevitably made huge totals or chased down competitive targets very efficiently. On the bowling front though, Bangalore have been found wanting in the middle and end overs. While they had an impressive performance against Mumbai in the second qualifier, they were not so good in the game against Chennai and conceded way too many runs in the final five overs. Faced with a highly destructive middle order, Bangalore's bowling will have to be at its best in the late overs in the big game.

Chennai have been sedate at the start and have focussed on buidling a strong base for the acceleration at the end. The lusty hitting of Raina, Dhoni and Morkel makes them a huge threat in any circumstance. Despite the fact that they prefer to bat first, they showed in the previous game against Bangalore that they can be adept at chasing down tough targets. Chennai's bowling led by Doug Bollinger and Morkel has been incisive in the first few overs, and with Ashwin's tight spells, they have been able to curtail the scoring of the opposition very effectively especially in home games.

Performance of the teams across the innings (Run-rate,average and Economy-rate, average)
Team Innings Overs(1-6) Overs(7-14) Overs(15-20) Overs(1-6)- ER Overs(7-14)- ER Overs(15-20)- ER
Chennai 1 6.33, 27.86 7.22, 48.92 10.69, 28.08 7.00, 28.00 6.96, 31.85 9.83, 33.71
Bangalore 1 8.03, 60.25 8.60, 68.80 10.03, 21.50 6.95,34.75 7.93, 36.88 9.74, 20.23
Chennai 2 5.83, 23.33 8.87, 71.00 9.29, 29.00 7.87, 32.50 7.05, 32.94 7.99, 14.24
Bangalore 2 8.65, 32.43 7.23, 29.52 9.79, 27.38 6.56, 19.70 7.02, 28.10 9.19, 37.00

Home advantage a huge factor
Chennai have been the most consistent team in the short history of the IPL and have made the semi-final stage every year. They lost in a close final in the inaugural season to Rajasthan, but went on to lift the IPL title and the Champions League in 2010. Along with their experience in big games, it is their supreme home record that makes them very dangerous to face in a final. They have won 17 of their 25 games at home across all seasons and are unbeaten in Chennai this season. They also clearly prefer batting first and have won six and lost just one game when they have batted first. While their pace bowlers have been very consistent, it is in the spin department that gives Chennai the upper hand overs most teams. Chennai's spinners have picked up 20 wickets at an economy rate of 6.44 in home games which is second only to Kolkata's performance in IPL 2011.

Chennai's impressive home record
Overall(wins/losses) 2011(wins/losses) 2011 Wins (bat first/chasing) Pace(wickets, ER) Spin(wickets,ER)
17/7 7/0 6/1 22, 8.10 20, 6.44