CSK, KKR Eye Final Turn In Their Redemption Arc

Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - CSK, KKR eye final turn in their redemption arc. CSK have won five of their last six encounters against KKR.

CSK, KKR Eye Final Turn In Their Redemption ArcCSK have won five of their last six encounters against KKR.

There was an unmissable glint in MS Dhoni's eyes as his side made another IPL final. It had been such a week for him that a little emotion was warranted. He went from a lifeless 18 off 27 against Delhi Capitals amidst a season of diminishing batting returns, to a 6-ball 18 against the same side in the first qualifier, that invoked fair shouts of #Vintage.

The 180 degree turn in Dhoni's batting returns was, if anything, the microcosm of CSK's entertaining end to this 2018-2021 cycle. 2020 triggered conversation of CSK being a spent force, laying out the carpet for Mumbai Indians to run away with all the plaudits for being the most successful IPL franchise ever. But here they are, just one big performance away from narrowing the IPL title deficit to just one.

Also on the cusp of penning a thrilling redemption story of their own are Kolkata Knight Riders. Since the eliminator appearance at the start of this cycle in 2018, KKR have largely had to play catch-up because of indifferent starts to the season in 2019 and 2020 – and on both occasions falling agonisingly short of a top-four finish.

A familiar, if not worse, fate awaited them with just two wins in seven games in the India leg but the unlikely coming together of favourable conditions and combinations in UAE has instead taken them all the way to the very top. If a reversal in the number of wins from the India leg – five in seven – wasn't enough to establish their turnaround, they've gone ahead and put themselves in the hunt to match CSK's IPL title tally by successfully crossing two playoffs hurdles to reach the summit clash.

CSK boast a far superior IPL final experience, but KKR have never lost one. But both these teams will know history has very little bearing on fixtures like these. They will also be wary of how equipped they both are at cancelling out each other's strengths, as we saw in their late-September clash in Abu Dhabi. Very little separated the two sides in that tense afternoon game back then, very little is likely to be the difference on Friday evening.

Head-to-head: CSK have beaten KKR in 16 out of the 24 clashes between the two sides. This includes 5 of their last six meetings, starting from 2019. For KKR however, one of those 16 came in the 2012 final – in Chepauk, no less.

When: Chennai Super Kings vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL Final, October 15, 19:30 IST

Where: Dubai International Stadium

What to Expect: An urge to win the toss and bowl first. Nine of the 12 fixtures in Dubai have been won by the chasing side this season. Furthermore, all of KKR's six wins in UAE have come in run chases, while CSK's five losses throughout this season have come when they've had to set a target.

Neither team has a particular advantage at the venue, with both winning and losing 50 percent of their games there this season.

Team Watch:

Chennai Super Kings

Injuries/Unavailable: After Robin Uthappa's impact in the first qualifier, Suresh Raina's fitness status may not be significant anymore. Uthappa came good on the team's need to blaze away in the PowerPlay after Faf du Plessis's first-over exit, and should keep his spot for the final.

Tactics & Match-ups: Ruturaj Gaikwad is only 23 short of KL Rahul's season tally of 626 runs. CSK will want him to get those and a lot more, and in the process defy two of KKR's most potent bowlers in this UAE leg – Varun CV and Sunil Narine – with his superior spin game. Gaikwad's importance to CSK's batting fortunes shines through even more considering Faf du Plessis has scores of 0, 10, 76 and 1 in the four outings in Dubai.

Probable XI: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (c&wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood

Kolkata Knight Riders

Injuries/Unavailable: Andre Russell is said to have been bowling on the sidelines before the second qualifier on Wednesday, and could be in the mix for the final.

Tactics & Match-ups: CSK were scoring at 9.44-an-over in the middle-overs in the India leg of IPL 2021, which has now dipped to only 6.85 since the tournament's move to UAE. This comes as music to KKR's ears, as they've seen their middle-overs bowling curve travel in the opposite direction – they picked 13 wickets in 7 innings and operated with an economy rate of 8.14 in India, but in UAE, that has improved to 29 wickets in 9 innings with an ER of 6.19

Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Venkatesh Iyer, Nitish Rana, Rahul Tripathi, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy

Did You Know:

– Russell, who might be fit for this fixture, has 300 runs in 10 outings against CSK at a strike rate of 169.49

– MS Dhoni has an average of 35.57 and a strike rate of 150 in IPL finals

– In the UAE leg, CSK and KKR have one opener each at the top of the batting charts – Gaikwad has scored 407 in 8 innings at an average of 67.83 and strike rate of 141.81, Venkatesh Iyer has 320 runs in 9 innings at an average of 40 and SR of 125.

What They Said:

“It's the full team (effort). It was the first time we didn't qualify last year and emotions were quite high. But whatever games we had towards the end of last year, we made the most of it. A lot of batters made the most of that. That's the reason we have come back strongly. But credit goes to the support staff and everyone in the team. Without that character, we couldn't have come back like this.” – MS Dhoni.

“Six off two [against DC in Q2], the odds were probably in favour of the bowling side, but Rahul Tripathi has done superbly well for us. It's a nice insight into our team culture – the young guys coming in feel free to express themselves. The backroom staff have created an environment for them to do this. With the squad we have, there's expectation. Hopefully we can implement all that we've strategised. We would like to keep going, playing against CSK, one of the best franchises in IPL history.” – Eoin Morgan.

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