Kolkata v Chennai, IPL 2012, final, Chennai

KKR seek maiden title; CSK hunt hat-trick

The Preview by George Binoy

May 26, 2012

Comments: 211 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

Sunday, May 27, 2012
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)


Gautam Gambhir plays a lofted shot, Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2012, Chennai, April 30, 2012
When these sides met in Chennai during the league stage, Knight Riders won by five wickets © AFP
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Big Picture

They are here, again. Those resilient, stubborn Chennai Super Kings. In another IPL final, their fourth in five seasons and their third in a row, pursuing a hat trick of titles. Love them, hate them or couldn't care less about them, you have to give it to them - the Super Kings got game. They know when and how to turn it on, too, though this season they dangled off the edge of the precipice, holding on with their pinkies, for longer than was comfortable.

Kolkata Knight Riders did not leave their chances hinging on an improbable combination of results over which they had no control. They reached the playoffs with a game to spare and made short work of Delhi Daredevils to enter their maiden IPL final. Their performances have been efficient and consistent and they should logically be favourites tomorrow. But they're facing a resurgent side on its home turf.

Super Kings are blessed with loyal fans and the pricklier among them bristle at insinuations that fortune played a role in their team making it to Chennai on Sunday. They got enough points, didn't they? And they didn't design the schedule, so they had to hope three results went their way to make the playoffs. And Kings XI Punjab just weren't good enough to beat Delhi Daredevils, and Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore weren't good enough to beat bottom-placed Deccan Chargers. What's luck got to do with it?

That Super Kings had to wait five days to know they would be able to defend their title was because of an out-of-sorts start to the season. At times they, the IPL's least changed side over five seasons, looked passé compared to some of the other teams, who had strengthened squads with new personnel. Super Kings' turnaround only began after ten league games, of which they had won four. They won four of their last six matches, so their form, when they entered familiar playoff territory, was satisfactory.

And then they were near perfect. After clambering on to level ground, Super Kings' misfiring batting line-up, the longest in the IPL, found its guns and annihilated Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils with breath-taking confidence.

While Super Kings had abundant success in seasons past, Knight Riders had nothing. In the first three years, they were the only team without a top-four finish. So in 2011, Knight Riders abandoned failed strategies, completely overhauled their squad, and climbed to fourth in the league, but lost the eliminator. In 2012, they have gone farther, converting their second-place finish in the league into a berth in the finals by beating Daredevils in the first qualifier.

Knight Riders also had an iffy start to the season, losing three of their first five games. Since then they've lost only two out of 11, acquiring the rarest quality in Twenty20 cricket - consistency. There were no dramas in their progress to the playoffs. Their success has been built around two people with supporting contributions from the rest. The captain Gautam Gambhir has been a reliable run-scorer, while the spinner Sunil Narine has confounded all and sundry with his unreadable variations.

If they perform like they have this season, Knight Riders have little reason to worry. Whether they can perform in their first final, against opponents seasoned to such pressure, is the question.

Form guide

(most recent first)

Chennai Super Kings: WWLWW
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWLL

Watch out for …

Sunil Narine: At present, he has the second most wickets this season, the best economy rate, and the best average for anyone who's played more than two matches - 24 wickets, 5.20 per over and 11.95 per wicket. Gambhir's used him in a variety of situations - early on to drag back a quick start, in the middle to exercise control over the game and at the end, when batsmen have only attack on their minds. Narine's delivered each time. Gambhir's utilisation of Narine in the final will be crucial. Super Kings bat until No. 9 so Gambhir will have to decide when and against whom Narine can have the greatest impact.

The middle orders: With top orders evenly matched and Knight Riders shading the bowling battle, this is where Super Kings score heavily over their opponents. The line-up comprising MS Dhoni, Dwayne Bravo, S Badrinath and Albie Morkel is far more reliable and powerful than the one comprising Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Manoj Tiwary, or variations of it. Knight Riders are more dependent on their top order than Super Kings are, although Yusuf Pathan did make his first proper contribution in the qualifier against Daredevils.

Team combination

Barring last-minute fitness problems, Super Kings are certain to play the same XI that won them the two knockout games to reach the final.

A couple of Knight Riders players have hamstring concerns. Manoj Tiwary missed the knockout against Delhi because of a strain and was replaced by Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who impressed with 24 off 11 balls. Tiwary is likely to be fit, though, so either Shukla or Debabrata Das, who has also performed well, could make way. The bigger hamstring concern, however, is over L Balaji, who injured himself during the qualifier. Balaji has been the solitary Indian seamer in the Knight Riders attack so his absence could cause significant change to the team composition.

Meetings this season

At Chepauk, Knight Riders won by five wickets and two balls to spare. Super Kings were restricted to a middling total and the victory was more comfortable than the margin indicates.

At Eden Gardens, Super Kings won by five wickets off the final delivery. Chasing 159, they* had reached 97 for 0 in the 11th over when Narine derailed the innings during a spell of 4-0-14-2. With 5 to get off the last ball, Bravo launched Rajat Bhatia over the long-on boundary.

Stats and trivia

  • In the last five overs of the innings, Super Kings have scored at 10.64 per over on average this season, which is the second best after Royal Challengers Bangalore. Knight Riders have scored at 9.32 per over during this period. There is very little separating the sides' run rates in the first six overs, though Knight Riders are a little faster.

  • Knight Riders have had the best spinners of the tournament. They've taken the most wickets at the best average and economy rate - 48, 16.20 and 6.09. Their attack of choice in recent games has been Narine, Iqbal Abdulla and Shakib Al Hasan, with Yusuf chipping in. Super Kings' spinners are second best, but by a distance.

Quotes

"When you go on to the field, you do not go there to make friends but you are there to get results in your team's favour. You have to be aggressive on the field. That is how we have won matches and now we are in the final and not to just compete."
Gautam Gambhir, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain.

"With his action, it is difficult to catch him as to which side he is bowling, whether it is the one that comes in to a right hander or it goes out. The variation he has got and the consistency that he has got in maintaining line and length has been crucial."
MS Dhoni on Sunil Narine.

*The text said Knight Riders earlier

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

go kkr go.. kkr spinners hav to complt the main job by damging the top order of csk..sakib .narine allthe best for u guys

Posted by great_allrounder on (May 27, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

It seems that CSK fans are feared of Shakib as he is the only player who can change the whole game for KKR. Including LEE in the team would be the most serious blunder of this tournament.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

for win Kolkata Knight Riders, i think have to played by shakib al hasan as all rounder. he is very good player in my eyes.

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 14:01 GMT)

Shakib plays! Or I wont watch.... :/

Posted by aniket992 on (May 27, 2012, 13:47 GMT)

GUYZ...TEAM KKR CONFIRMED...MCULLUM REPLACED BY BRETT LEE..BISLA IN FOR BALAJI...DERE WILL BE A FITNESS TEST FOR MANOJ TAKEN BY LEIPUS WHICH IF HE MANAGES TO PASS WILL COME IN FOR DEBABRATA AND HE IS MOST LIKELY TO PASS... dissapointed personally to see d opening combo disturbed...wat r ur views??

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 13:43 GMT)

@ shiva lol yes don too and last time shakib hit the ball,it crashed half of our planet.we dont wanna lose our remaining half planet :(

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Forget the league stage performances... This is Finals and all chances for the big stage specialists... GO CSK

Posted by sameer_style on (May 27, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

KKR should win for sake of IPL interest !! If CSK wins it will be as boring as Aus in cricket or Schumacher/Tiger woods/Federer etc... Since Yusuf Pathan found some form in last game he should play up the order and make quick 30-40 runs. I wonder what strategy Gambhir plays if Sunil Narine fails to take wickets. Even if Narine bowls well what abt rest of 16 overs??... 16 overs are enough for CSK batsman to make 200+ runs. Key players for me are Gauti, McCullum(?), Kallis, Hussey n Vijay.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (May 27, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

this is the best team for kkr: gambhir, bisla, kallis, manoj, pathan, shakib, laxmi ratan shukla, bhatia , narine , lee and balaji/abdullah. No McCullum because Bisla is the 2nd best indian wk in the league after dhoni and so you dont need to play a foreign wicketkeeper. Also it enables kkr to play lee as well as narine-two strike bowlers in a final is always a better option than a hit and miss opener

Posted by   on (May 27, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

@ ben , nice one. u left out don bradman

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
Tournament Results
KKR v Super Kings at Chennai - May 27, 2012
KKR won by 5 wickets (with 2 balls remaining)
Daredevils v Super Kings at Chennai - May 25, 2012
Super Kings won by 86 runs
Super Kings v Mum Indians at Bangalore - May 23, 2012
Super Kings won by 38 runs
Daredevils v KKR at Pune - May 22, 2012
KKR won by 18 runs
Royals v Mum Indians at Jaipur - May 20, 2012
Mum Indians won by 10 wickets (with 12 balls remaining)
Chargers v RCB at Hyderabad (Deccan) - May 20, 2012
Chargers won by 9 runs
More results »
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