Warriors v Chennai, Champions League final, Johannesburg

Dhoni's Chennai seek victory for one last time

The Preview by Sriram Veera in Johannesburg

September 26, 2010

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Match facts

Sunday, September 26
Start time 1730 (1530 GMT)


Chennai celebrate the dismissal of David Hussey, Chennai v Victoria, Champions League Twenty20 2010, Port Elizabeth, September 18, 2010
The Champions League final will be this Chennai outfit's last competitive game ahead of the IPL player auction in November © AFP
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Big Picture

It's tempting to bill the final as the clash of captains: Davy Jacobs v MS Dhoni. It makes sense too. Jacobs is an interesting character. He's extremely driven and has always wanted captaincy. He thinks it's his destiny to lead this Warriors side. They hadn't won a thing for 18 years until he came along. It's his team. It's his passion, his life. And he is a fiercely ambitious young man.

Jacobs hasn't played a game for South Africa yet but, when asked what his plans are, he said he would like to be the vice-captain to Johan Botha in the Twenty20 international team. And there was no trace of arrogance. He said it as though it was a given and, in his mind, it is. A couple of days ago South Africa's Test, ODI and Twenty20 sides were selected for the home series against Zimbabwe and the tour of the UAE. Jacobs wasn't in them. Rest assured, he won't stop busting his gut till he gets in. He's that kind of a man.

Tonight, after the successful semi-final, he said: "The team that wants it more will win tomorrow." This is where this gets complicated.

If this was just another final, it would not be far-fetched to say that Jacobs desires victory more than Dhoni does. But it's not just another final. It's the last time that this group of players will play together for Chennai and Dhoni has said he wants a perfect farewell. "Emotionally we are quite attached but unfortunately we won't be able to retain the same team. We want to do well as this is the last tournament. The way we have gelled in the last three years [is great]."

Dhoni's leadership has its share of admirers. He tries to ensure that he appears calm in the middle, he knows his teams' weaknesses, he definitely knows its strengths and, like most successful captains, he gets his share of luck.

It will perhaps come down to the pitch then. Jacobs said the Wanderers track will offer pace and bounce and he expects Makhaya Ntini to fire on the big day. But things even out. Dhoni has Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel, who returned from injury and produced an excellent spell against Royal Challengers Bangalore. The edge in the seam attack will be with Chennai if Morkel can reprise that semi-final performance. He has often failed to be consistent in the Twenty20 format. Chennai's spin attack comprises Muttiah Muralitharan and R Ashwin, Warriors have Nicky Boje and Johan Botha. Advantage Chennai?

And so we come to the batting. Chennai didn't have to face the pace of Dale Steyn in the last game and ended up with a massive total. Can Ntini and co strike fear in their camp? But Chennai do bat deep, at least deeper than Warriors. It's difficult to pick a winner.

Team news

Both teams don't have any injury problems and are likely to go with unchanged sides.

Chennai(probable): 1 M Vijay, 2 Michael Hussey, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 S Badrinath, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 S Anirudha, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Doug Bollinger, 9 R Ashwin, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 L Balaji

Warriors (probable): 1 Davy Jacobs (capt), 2 Ashwell Prince, 3 Colin Ingram, 4 Justin Kreusch, 5 Mark Boucher (wk), 6 Craig Thyssen, 7 Johan Botha, 8 Nicky Boje, 9 Rusty Theron, 10 Makhaya Ntini, 11 Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Watch out for ...

Ashwell Prince has been almost anonymous but he can be the guy who turns it on for Warriors in the final. He is the man who walked up his coach last year and said he wanted to open. He starred in the final of both the Pro20 and Pro-40 tournaments. While the attention will be on the explosive Jacobs, it might be Prince who performs the jailbreak against Chennai. His coach Russell Domingo says he has not seen a more determined cricketer than Prince. "He is calm and brings so much stability to this youthful team."

Albie Morkel can make or break the game tomorrow. He bowled a fast spell in the last game during which he troubled Bangalore with seam movement and bounce. But Morkel's game can also disintegrate quickly. He is far from consistent and his contest with the Warriors' openers could decide the game.

Quotes

"Nicky Boje has a couple of ODI tons as an opener. And Botha can bat. So I am not worried that Botha is at No 6. It has worked for us so far."
Davy Jacobs, the Warriors captain, on his team's batting line-up.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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