image_20131006112212

Rahul Dravid (left) and Sachin Tendulkar will be playing their last competitive T20 game in the CLT20 2013 final © PTI and Getty Images

Mumbai Indians are set to take on the Rajasthan Royals in the final of the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) 2013 at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Sunday. Aayush Puthran lists 10 players to look out for in the final clash.

It has been a contrasting journey in the Champions League Twenty20 2013 for the two teams that have reached the final — Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals.

While Mumbai struggled in the early part of the tournament after coming into it at the back of a victorious Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign, Rajasthan Royals seemed unbeatable at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur after controversies of spot-fixing and betting tarnished the names of some of their players and disturbed the dressing room atmosphere.

However, as both the teams meet at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi on Sunday for the USD 2.5million prize money and the coveted trophy. While neither of the teams have relied on individual contributions so far in the tournament, there are certain players who need to be looked out for. Here are the 10 players to watch out for in the final clash:

Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid

Tendulkar and Dravid, two of the guardians of the highest standard of cricket, will undoubtedly be the biggest crowd-pullers at Delhi as they look to end their respective T20 careers on a high. While Tendulkar is yet to retire from the First-Class arena, this will Dravid’s last act in competitive cricket. Both the legendary batsmen have had a poor outing in the tournament and would like to put up one good show to take their team to victory and most importantly for their fans world-over who would be keenly watching each ball they face with the hope of seeing their vintage class.

Ajinkya Rahane and Dwayne Smith

While one is a batsman of pure class, displaying the beauty of orthodox cricket, the other is a brutal hitter who looks awkward while playing a controlled the game. What puts them on a similar front are the runs that they have been getting for their teams at the top of the order. While their stay at the crease is often overshadowed by the big names of Tendulkar and Dravid, they have gone about doing their duties effectively for the team. A lot rides on them again to post big scores and give their teams a good start in the final.

Kieron Pollard and Shane Watson

The two are among the biggest star attractions in their respective teams. In terms of value, they can win the match single-handedly for their teams. Who explodes first and with what intensity will be worth watching. At the same time, their value as bowlers and fielders shouldn’t be neglected either. 

In terms of competition, the two have had their run-ins in the past and would hope this time around the heated exchanges would do away with their performance on the field. Both have had a relatively quiet tournament so far, with the occasional handy contribution. However, at Delhi, if they perform at their destructive best, fans are sure to have a good time.

Harbhajan Singh and Pravin Tambe

The 42-year old Tambe has been, without a doubt, the fairytale of this season’s CLT20. Maybe the brilliance of leg-spin has come to the notice a little late: the golden wicket, if he gets, would be a decent consolidation. In the absence of Ankeet Chavan and Ajit Chandila, Tambe has grabbed the opportunity well. Tambe would do well to bring his years of experience playing in the local tournaments in Mumbai, in the final.

Harbhajan Singh, on the other hand, is hasn’t done much worth notice in the tournament so far and would like to end it on a high. The experience of the senior pro would count for a lot as this would be his fourth final with the Mumbai Indians. Maybe a tip or two from bowling coach Anil Kumble would do wonders for him at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

Dinesh Karthik and Kevon Cooper

Both the multi-utility players have played a significant role in their side’s success. However, they would want to make a point to their respective national selectors with a good show in the final. Cooper has been sensational with the ball in the tournament and has shown what a destructive pinch-hitter he can be to change the momentum of the game. Karthik, on the other hand, too showed his class with the bat in the semi-final clash against Trinidad and Tobago. The wicketkeeper-batsman can prove more than handy when in full flow.

It will be interesting to see if the star power of the Mumbai Indians overpowers the lack-lustre, yet effective, Rajasthan Royals outside the comfort of their home ground. On the other hand, it could well be the most romantic journey for Rajasthan after all that they have been through since the IPL spot-fixing scandal broke out.

(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)