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May 31, 2008
Match factsSunday, June 1
The Big PictureAs the summer blockbuster comes to an end, two of its biggest superstars clash in the finale in Mumbai. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, captain of the Chennai Super Kings, is the highest-paid player in this league but his counterpart in the Rajasthan Royals, Shane Warne, has delivered better results; his success at this year's tournament would be the equivalent of the box-office returns of a Shahrukh Khan starrer.
A win for Dhoni would justify his US$1.5m price tag but would also be a last-minute twist to the fairytale ending that would hand Warne the trophy. Warne's dual role as captain and coach of Rajasthan has been the story of the season: an entire team costing less than two-and-a-half times Dhoni's price, whose owner's low-budget strategy even got the thumbs down from the IPL's chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi, was moulded into a successful unit.
However, don't write off Dhoni just yet. His first stint as captain was at the World Twenty20 in South Africa, where an unfancied India claimed the title, and here his team were written off after the exodus of international stars, but Dhoni and Co have battled the odds to reach the final.
One factor in Chennai's favour is that Graeme Smith, whose batting has been the cornerstone of several Rajasthan innings, has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. Also, Rajasthan were routed by the Mumbai Indians at the DY Patil Sports Academy, the venue of the final, and Warne termed the surface "easily the worst of the IPL" as the ball stopped before coming on to the bat.
On form, Rajasthan are favourites and their confidence will be boosted by their two earlier victories against Chennai. However, after convincingly knocking out the formidable Kings XI Punjab in the semi-finals, Chennai won't be too worried about the underdog status.
Form (last five completed matches, most recent first)Rajasthan Royals: WLWWW
Watch out for ...
Team newsWarne termed the loss of Smith as "huge" but Kamran Akmal's presence softens the blow. Akmal's inclusion could force Mahesh Rawat, who was their wicketkeeper in the semi-final, to sit out. Niraj Patel, who has impressed in the limited opportunities he has got, could be drafted in to strengthen the batting order.
Rajasthan Royals (probable): 1 Niraj Patel, 2 Swapnil Asnodkar, 3 Kamran Akmal (wk), 4 Shane Watson, 5 Mohammad Kaif, 6 Yusuf Pathan, 7 Ravindra Jadeja 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Shane Warne (capt), 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Munaf Patel.
Chennai are likely to retain their winning XI unless Dhoni decides to pick Joginder Sharma, who bowled that dramatic final over against Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final last year, over L Balaji, who had a poor outing in the semi-final.
Chennai Super Kings (probable): 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 S Vidyut, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt) 5 Chamara Kapugedera, 6 S Badrinath, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Manpreet Gony, 9 L Balaji/Joginder Sharma, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Makhaya Ntini.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"I would be lying if I say I am not feeling the pressure, but we are ready for it [the final]."
"The wicket at the DY Patil has helped seamers more. It's a bit up and down. We have a well-balanced attack to do well there."
Shane Warne fancies his bowlers' chances
"On form [Rajasthan] Royals are on a roll but Chennai can be dangerous as they proved against us."
Tom Moody, Kings XI Punjab coach, sits on the fence when asked to pick the IPL winner
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at CricinfoFeeds: Nagraj Gollapudi
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