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Mumbai Indians (MI) take on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) tonight in the final of the eighth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. CSK lost the battle against MI in the first qualifier but bounced back emphatically and will look to settle the scores.

However, Mumbai have built the perfect momentum and will look to replicate the feat that they achieved against the same side at the same venue in 2013. Suraj Choudhari lists out nine things that MI should do to win their second IPL title.

  1. Win the toss and bat first


In a high pressure game like the final, a team always prefers to bat first and put runs on the board, which ultimately puts the chasing team under pressure. On four out of seven occasions, the team batting first has won the title. To be more precise, CSK has batted first on both the occasions when they have won, whereas MI too batted first when they won in 2013.

  1. Play Ashish Nehra and Ravichandran Ashwin with caution


The Eden Gardens track has historically supported spinners but the final is expected to be on a seamer friendly wicket. With 22 wickets in the tournament so far, Nehra has been very impressive and will look to make his experience count in the most crucial game. Even Ashwin has been exceptional and picked 10 wickets at an economy of 5.59. These bowlers are more dangerous if they get early wickets and denying them that should be the plan.

  1. Rohit Sharma should look to play against the spinners and continue his love affair with Eden


MI skipper Rohit Sharma has been a prolific run scorer at this venue; in the opening game of this season, he remained unbeaten on 98 against defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Apart from a hundred on Test debut and the famous ODI double hundred; he also has an IPL century to his name at this venue. As CSK are a side who heavily banks on their spinners, Rohit’s presence at the crease will be very crucial as he is an excellent player of spin. On the contrary, most of the CSK spinners are Rohit’s national teammates, so he might be well aware of the techniques and strategies which they bring into play.

  1. Opening batsmen to cash-in on their form

IPl parthiv and simmons

In a game of uncertainties like T20 a solid opening partnership is priceless. Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel have accomplished the assigned task of openers for MI to precedence. They have also been one of the most pivotal reasons behind MI’s resurgence. In the first qualifier against CSK, the duo added a 90-run opening stand. Another good stand here and half the job is done.

  1. Unleash Harbhajan Singh against the CSK left-handers


There’s no doubt about the role that Lasith Malinga will play tonight but much of MI hopes will rely on ace off-spinner Harbhajan. He was instrumental in turning the first qualifier match in MI’s favour by nabbing Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni off consecutive deliveries. In Mike Hussey, Suresh Raina, Pawan Negi and Ravindra Jadeja, CSK have quite a few left-handed batters. A quality off-spinner against lefties is always an advantage and MI will hope for Harbhajan to shine again. Harbhajan has also been selected in the national side for the Test in Bangladesh and will have his morale high.

In this season at the Eden Gardens, spinners have accounted for 37 wickets at an economy of 7.91, whereas the pacers have clinched just 27 wickets. MI have a well balanced side of pace as well as spin, they should utilise this to the fullest.

  1. Come up with a strategy to play Dwayne Bravo’s variation in the death


Dwayne Bravo has evolved as a phenomenal death bowler in the shorter formats; he is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 24 wickets in his kitty. Bravo with his astute alteration while bowling has managed to fox the batsmen on a regular basis at the crease. MI should have a strategy ready to keep the Caribbean game-changer in check and try to score more runs against him in the death. Kieron Pollard is Bravo’s teammate in West Indies and also Trinidad and Tobago, and he knows a thing or two about countering him. Pollard’s role with the bat in the death overs shall be very crucial.

  1. Use Mitchell McClenaghan against Suresh Raina

IPl mitchell

McClenaghan has been in a good form in this tournament. He has bowled the short-pitched deliveries quite well and Raina’s weakness against them is well-known. He has not been in a very good touch in this year’s edition and will look to play a game changing knock. Rohit should test Raina with the short-pitched deliveries from Mclenaghan and Malinga

  1. Have their tails up in the field

CSK skipper Dhoni is a smart captain and the side looks to manipulate the field, making running between the wickets count. CSK players are very good runners between the wickets and MI fielders – who are coached by the legendary Jonty Rhodes – must be on their toes. MI fielding hasn’t been very consistent but against a side like CSK, there’s absolutely no room for errors.

  1. Finally, take advantage of their recent form and stats

IPL suraj 2015

MI has a 6-2 win-loss record in IPL matches at Eden Gardens, while the CSK have a 4-4 record at this venue. MI will take on CSK for the third time in the finals of the IPL and both the teams have won on one occasion. Head-to-head MI is marginally ahead with 11-10 against CSK and this season they have won two out of three encounters against them. While it’s always a psychological advantage to have the stats favouring you but come tonight, it will be a fresh start and how the sides fare on the field will determine the new IPL champions.

(Suraj Choudhari, an avid cricket follower who plays the sport at club level, is a staffer with Criclife)

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