The world’s best cricket league, the Indian Premier League, is coming to an end with the grand finale scheduled to be played at Dubai on the 15th of October 2021. Spanning over almost seven months, the Indian Premier League’s 14th edition started on the 9th of April 2021 back in Chennai, India.
After 29 matches of the group stage, IPL was postponed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement came after some players and support staff inside the COVID-19 bubble tested positive for the virus. The IPL governing council (IPL GC) & the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) deemed the postponement as a necessary step to guarantee the safety of local & foreign players participating in the league.
There was a lot of speculation over the restart date of IPL, but eventually, the schedule was announced by the BCCI. The remaining matches were shifted to United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of the surge of COVID-19 in India. The first match after the rescheduling i.e., the 30th Match of the 14th edition of IPL was played at Dubai on the 19th of September 2021, which was the official date announced by the BCCI for the start of second leg of the tournament.
The news of the start of second leg of IPL rejuvenated not only the Indian cricket fans, but also cricket fans all over the world. IPL Is one of the most watched sporting events in the world as it brings together players from almost all the major cricketing countries on the same platform. The 27 remaining group matches & 3 qualifiers were played at three different venues in UAE i.e., Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi.
From Harshal Patel’s record equaling 32 wickets in one edition of IPL to KL Rahul’s blistering 626 runs (the most in this edition of IPL), from Kartik Tyagi’s last over defending 4 runs to KS Bharat’s last ball six to win the match, from Avesh Khan’s exceptional bowling to put Delhi Capitals in the play-offs to Gaikwad’s & Du Plessis’s remarkable form with the bat, from Narine’s all-round performance to win the first eliminator to Dhoni’s trademark finishing to put Chennai Super Kings in the tournament’s final, the 14th edition of IPL has provided some unforgettable & exquisite performances.
After 56 group stage matches & 3 qualifiers, at last we have two of our finalists. Chennai Super Kings, under the captaincy of India’s most successful captain MS Dhoni, will take on Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata Knight Riders at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.
Chennai Super Kings have had an amazing IPL 2021, winning 9 out of their 14 league games & finishing 2nd on the points table, only 2 points behind Delhi Capitals. Considering the fact that CSK finished second last on the points table in IPL 2020, level on points with Rajasthan Royals on the bottom of table, the team has shown extraordinary attitude & character to turn things around this season.
Not only did they finish 2nd in the group stage, but they were also the first team to qualify for the IPL 2021 finals, beating Delhi Capitals in the first qualifier. Chennai’s openers, both Ruturaj Gaikwad & Faf Du Plessis have been phenomenal with the bat, amassing 603 (2nd highest) & 547 (4th highest) runs respectively in IPL 2021.
CSK have a disciplined bowling unit with bowlers like Josh Hazlewood, Deepak Chahar, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur & Ravindra Jadeja. Their surprise pick in the qualifier against Delhi Capitals, Robin Uthappa, scored 63 runs of 44 balls & gave CSK the solidity that they were looking for in the middle order.
With an experienced all-rounder like Moeen Ali and an unnerved captain & ruthless finisher like MS Dhoni, CSK have what it takes to win the trophy this season. They have already won three IPL titles back in 2010, 2011 & 2018 and they would be eager have another one under their belt.
The second finalists, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), were lingering in the bottom of the points table after the first leg of the tournament. Then started the dramatic turnaround and KKR qualified for the final of IPL 2021. KKR only had 2 wins out of the 7 matches that they played in India, but in the UAE leg, they won 5 out of their 7 games to make it into the top four.
They brushed aside Royal Challengers Bangalore & Delhi Capitals in close encounters to make their way into the final. Under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan, KKR were very aggressive with their approach. Their openers Shubman Gill & Venkatesh Iyer played a key role in their success. Their bowlers were economical and adjusted to the conditions in UAE perfectly. Varun Chakravarthy, Lockie Ferguson & Shivam Mavi, all bowled well to contribute towards their wins. On the other hand, batters like Nitish Rana & Rahul Tripathi played some important knocks to make sure that KKR reaches the finals.
Sunil Narine was terrific with the bowl & also scored some quick runs in important situations, paying off the faith that KKR has put in him. KKR in the second leg of the tournament have been the most impressive team, they are a balanced side with almost every player contributing to their wins.
Kolkata would like to continue this winning momentum against CSK in the finals win their third IPL trophy, we are in for a breathtaking final. The fact that KKR has been in two finals and have won both, it’d help calming the nerves caused by the grand finale.
The weather in Dubai is going to be hot & humid as usual. The matches that had been played at Dubai had offered different kind of pitches, some offering high scoring games & the others a bit slower and lower in nature. It will be interesting to see what kind of a pitch the final would be played on, but one thing is for sure, it is going to be a mouthwatering and exhilarating contest.
Both teams would be looking forward to going with the same elevens that they fielded in their last matches, the likely playing XI for both the teams are –
Chennai Super Kings
Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf Du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Moeen Ali, MS Dhoni (c & wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood
Kolkata Knight Riders
Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan, Dinesh Karthik, Shakib Al Hasan, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy
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