Kolkata, May 23:
In what could be deja vu from 2013, Eden Gardens will again host Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI), who will lock horns for the most coveted domestic prize, the Indian Premier League (IPL) title here on Sunday.
While CSK have won the title twice, MI had clinched it once two years earlier.
However, the road to the final was not easy for either of the two teams. Mumbai had a disastrous start to their campaign as they lost all of their first four matches.
But just when things looked bleak for the Rohit Sharma-led outfit, the team bounced back with some panache as it won seven of its last nine group games to make it to the title round.
They took along the momentum to the Wankhede stadium — their home turf — where they beat CSK by 25 runs in Qualifier 1 and booked a place in the ultimate showdown.
Chennai, on the other hand, had a consistent season as they finished atop the league table with 18 points from 14 games.
But the heavyweights had a slip up enroute to the final, at the Wankhede, but recovered with a very clinical performance against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Friday night as they outdid Virat Kohli’s side by three wickets in Ranchi.
Considering the head to head battles, it is difficult to differentiate between the two franchises with Mumbai having clinched 11 games to CSK’s 10.
Thus a battle of the titans await the fans and supporters at Eden on Sunday as each side unleash their full fury to clinch the trophy on a wicket that has fulfilled expectations this tournament.
“It is a different wicket than last year, you want to see a good battle between bat and ball and that is what is happening… very pleased with the pitch,” Kohli had said after an earlier game.
However, Eden’s pitch curator Prabir Mukherjee refrained from commenting on the fresh strip that will host the two teams, saying, “You will have to decide for yourself whether it is a sporting wicket when the final starts on Sunday.”
The strip may, however, be witness to a Caribbean calypso as both sides boast of a top order having swashbuckling willowers from the West Indies.
While it will be Lendl Simmons — who carved a brilliant 51-ball 65 in Qualifier 1 for Mumbai — for CSK, Dwayne Smith will open the batting. The Caribbean flavours continue as all-rounders Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard don the yellow and blue jerseys respectively.
Bravo is also the leading wicket-taker this season with 24 victims from 15 innings.
The other big guns who can step up to make a difference in the big game can be the two skippers, namely Rohit Sharma for MI, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the Super Kings.
One also needs to note that for the former, it has been personally one of the most happy hunting grounds as in the opening game this season he had scored a blistering 98 not out against KKR.
With the leather, both side possess an formidable weaponry, with the likes of Lasith Malinga (MI) and Ashish Nehra (CSK) marshalling the respective departments. And they sure know how to turn things around in a pressure situation.
Will it be the big guns who will make a difference or will the likes of Pawan Negi and Hardik Pandya deliver the goods and become an unlikely hero, one has to wait and watch.