Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings seem to always spiral towards each other in their relentless hunt for the Indian Premier League title. On Sunday, the two sides will face each other for the fourth time this season. It is also the fourth time that CSK and MI will be pitted against each other in an IPL final. They are the two most successful teams in the tournament's history and the final on Sunday will be another chapter in what has been an epic rivalry between two sides who are as different from each other as a pair of sporting opposites can be.
While CSK are known to be a team that dominates the group stage, MI are notoriously slow starters. Both sides stayed true to their reputation this season. MI had a sputtering start to their season, before taking off, CSK remained top of the table for much of the group stages and were one of the first teams to confirm qualification to the playoffs.
However, CSK were piped to the top spot by Mumbai Indians thanks to the 9-wicket hiding the latter handed out to Kolkata Knight Riders in their last group game. MI are also the only team that CSK haven't been able to beat this season with the MS Dhoni-led side losing the two group matches and the first qualifier against their rivals.
Mumbai also have the statistical edge in IPL finals played between the two sides, having ended three out of the four title clashes between the two sides on the winning side.
However, CSK displayed ominous form in the way they swatted Delhi Capitals aside in the second Qualifier. The ever-reliable CSK spinners helped them restrict Delhi Capitals to 147/9. Coming to the chase, Shane Watson finally found form and his opening partnership of 81 with Faf du Plessis set the stage for a rollicking win for the Yellow Brigade. They ended up winning the match by six wickets with an over to spare.
Unpredictability is a constant in the IPL, a fact that has been as apparent as ever this season with the numerous collapses and death over run bursts that we have seen in the group stage. There is no reason to believe that the final would be any different. But it will all boil down to the team which holds its nerves on the day of the big battle.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleijn.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks and Lasith Malinga.