14:30 GMT | 20:00 local
20:00 IST Final - Chennai Super Kings v Kolkata Knight Riders
MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chepauk, Chennai
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CSK vs KKR IPL FINAL 2012 Match Stats:
They are here, again. Those resilient, stubborn Chennai Super Kings. In another IPL final, their fourth in five seasons and their third in a row, pursuing a hat trick of titles. Love them, hate them or couldn't care less about them, you have to give it to them - the Super Kings got game. They know when and how to turn it on, too, though this season they dangled off the edge of the precipice, holding on with their pinkies, for longer than was comfortable.
Kolkata Knight Riders did not leave their chances hinging on an improbable combination of results over which they had no control. They reached the playoffs with a game to spare and made short work of Delhi Daredevils to enter their maiden IPL final. Their performances have been efficient and consistent and they should logically be favourites tomorrow. But they're facing a resurgent side on its home turf.
Super Kings are blessed with loyal fans and the pricklier among them bristle at insinuations that fortune played a role in their team making it to Chennai on Sunday. They got enough points, didn't they? And they didn't design the schedule, so they had to hope three results went their way to make the playoffs. And Kings XI Punjab just weren't good enough to beat Delhi Daredevils, and Rajasthan Royals and Royal Challengers Bangalore weren't good enough to beat bottom-placed Deccan Chargers. What's luck got to do with it?
That Super Kings had to wait five days to know they would be able to defend their title was because of an out-of-sorts start to the season. At times they, the IPL's least changed side over five seasons, looked passé compared to some of the other teams, who had strengthened squads with new personnel. Super Kings' turnaround only began after ten league games, of which they had won four. They won four of their last six matches, so their form, when they entered familiar playoff territory, was satisfactory.
And then they were near perfect. After clambering on to level ground, Super Kings' misfiring batting line-up, the longest in the IPL, found its guns and annihilated Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils with breath-taking confidence.
While Super Kings had abundant success in seasons past, Knight Riders had nothing. In the first three years, they were the only team without a top-four finish. So in 2011, Knight Riders abandoned failed strategies, completely overhauled their squad, and climbed to fourth in the league, but lost the eliminator. In 2012, they have gone farther, converting their second-place finish in the league into a berth in the finals by beating Daredevils in the first qualifier.
Knight Riders also had an iffy start to the season, losing three of their first five games. Since then they've lost only two out of 11, acquiring the rarest quality in Twenty20 cricket - consistency. There were no dramas in their progress to the playoffs. Their success has been built around two people with supporting contributions from the rest. The captain Gautam Gambhir has been a reliable run-scorer, while the spinner Sunil Narine has confounded all and sundry with his unreadable variations.
If they perform like they have this season, Knight Riders have little reason to worry. Whether they can perform in their first final, against opponents seasoned to such pressure, is the question.
Chennai Super Kings Squad
MS Dhoni*†, S Anirudha, R Ashwin, S Badrinath, GJ Bailey, DE Bollinger, DJ Bravo, F du Plessis, BW Hilfenhaus, MEK Hussey, RA Jadeja, SB Jakati, Joginder Sharma, S Randiv, KMDN Kulasekara, VY Mahesh, JA Morkel, A Mukund, SK Raina, WP Saha†, SB Styris, S Tyagi, K Vasudevadas, G Vignesh, M Vijay
Kolkata Knight Riders Squad
G Gambhir*, S Ladda, L Balaji, R Bhatia, MS Bisla, DB Das, M de Lange, BJ Haddin†, Iqbal Abdulla, CS Jani, JH Kallis, B Lee, BB McCullum†, EJG Morgan, SP Narine, YK Pathan, JL Pattinson, SV Samson, PJ Sangwan, I Saxena, Shami Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, LR Shukla, RN ten Doeschate, MK Tiwary, JD Unadkat
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