CSK have won the title twice, whereas SRH won it in 2016 edition. (Image courtesy: PTI).
CSK have won the title twice, whereas SRH won it in 2016 edition. (Image courtesy: PTI).

After 59 encounters, the ongoing VIVO IPL 2018 is finally a match away from its conclusion. After a much-hyped IPL auction in January, and the return of two-tained sides — in form of Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR) — the tournament has lived upto its magnitude. There have been some eye-catching individual performances, plenty of last-ball finishes and overall team brilliance. Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and CSK are the finalists who will be fighting very hard for another title glory.

What a script it has been for CSK. After serving a two-year ban for spot-fixing scandal, CSK have formed another strong unit wherein the team management and leader, MS Dhoni, have been keen on salvaging the lost pride. This is their seventh IPL final in their ongoing nineth appearance.

On the other hand, SRH had their own blip ahead of the season opener. Regular skipper, David Warner, was the mastermind behind the infamous ball-tampering saga in Cape Town; resulting his ban in this IPL. Stand-in skipper, Kane Williamson, made way and had led magnificently to take his side to the summit clash. In addition, Williamson still has the Orange Cap, leading the only realistic contender — Ambati Rayudu — by a whopping 98 runs. Who would believe the New Zealander was not a regular in the playing XI in the previous seasons.

The twist and turns have been immaculate this season. Expect more in the grand finale. Ahead of the match, let us analyse the possible key battles which may take place at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.

CSK’s batting vs SRH’s bowling: It all boils down to this. SRH have somehow managed to improve their batting after a series of moderate totals. They have a deep batting lineup, with Rashid Khan at No. 9, but their bowlers have done all the talking. Undoubtedly, they are the ‘defending’ champions. They are up against CSK — a side who have dominated the powerplays and death overs this IPL. Rayudu vs Rashid, Dhoni vs Bhuvuneshwar Kumar, Suresh Raina vs Siddarth Kaul, Faf du Plessis vs Shakib Al Hasan etc would make a worthy final encounter.

SRH 2, CSK 1: SRH, like mentioned above, are the best-bowling attack of the tournament. Meanwhile, CSK are ahead in the batting department. CSK’s fielding isn’t admirable, but at par. On the other hand, SRH have their nose ahead thanks to the likes of Rashid, Williamson, Manish Pandey etc. SRH favourites?

Favourite, who? The tournament has been a big success as the table-toppers clash in the finals. SRH come into the match with 1 win from their last 5 games. CSK have won 3 out of their last 5 encounters. Overall in the tournament, CSK have more wins (10:5) against SRH’s (10:6). This way, CSK are clear favourites.

However, there is a twist to this tale. Surely, CSK should be proud of the fact that this is their 7th final (out of 9). But, they have won only two out of six finals played so far. In the hindsight, SRH play their second final (after lifting 2016 championship). In short, CSK have played more finals but SRH have a 100 per cent record.

But, but but…CSK lead SRH 3-0 in the overall face-offs this season.

Note: CSK’s first IPL title came on this ground Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai.