Three-time champion Team Chennai is all set to take on two-time champion Team Kolkata in what promises to be an enthralling Indian T20 League 2021 final at Dubai. These two weren’t the fancied teams before the tournament as Chennai had a forgetful season in 2020 while Kolkata were languishing on the seventh position at the end of the first leg.
We’ve seen a remarkable turnaround by both the units and it sets the stage for the final beautifully. Here’s what you can expect from the Indian T20 League 2021 final between these two blockbuster teams.
After a disastrous campaign in 2020, there was plenty of thinking to do for Team Chennai heading into the 2021 edition. Captain Dhoni had made it clear that he would come again for the 2021 edition and the question was the improvements required for the season.
The team had decided that they’d back young Ruturaj Gaikwad as an opener and it paid dividends later in the season. The fearless approach with the bat also helped release the pressure from the bowlers who now had plenty of runs to play with more often than not. The team also has an incredible deep batting lineup and it freed the middle order to go all guns blazing in any given situation.
They finished second in the league table but there were a few form concerns going into the playoff as Chennai had lost four on the bounce in the league. They were against the standout team from the league, Delhi in the first qualifier and were up against it after the first innings. It required a special knock by Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa to get them close to the target. But it was Thala himself, MS Dhoni who put the finishing touches on the chase in typical Mahi style and got a place in the final of the competition.
Team Kolkata had a topsy turvy start to the 2021 campaign. The team wasn’t playing the brand of cricket that was desired by the coaching staff and the captain. At the end of the first leg, the Kolkata camp didn’t seem a happy one. The forced break was a blessing in disguise for the team in purple and gold. They found an opener in Venkatesh Iyer who was willing to do exactly what was desired by coach Brendon McCullum and captain Eoin Morgan. Shubman Gill upped the tempo of his batting in the powerplay and the team looked like a completely different unit.
There’s no doubt that pitches in the UAE have favoured their bowling style. The mystery spin of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine have worked wonders in tandem on low, slow wickets, especially in Sharjah. The Indian batters in Iyer, Gill, Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana have done the bulk of the scoring for them and they have rightly deserved a place in the final for the brand of cricket they have been able to exhibit.
After a near-perfect game on the same ground, one would expect Team Chennai to go in with the same unit. As for Team Kolkata are concerned, there are a few worries regarding the fitness of Varun Chakravarthy who hobbled off in the previous match against Delhi. Andre Russell is fighting hard to be fit for this crucial encounter but his availability is still uncertain.
Team Chennai Predicted Lineup: Ruturaj Gaikwad, Faf du Plessis, Robin Uthappa, Moeen Ali, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (wk) (c), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, Josh Hazlewood
Team Kolkata Predicted Lineup: Venkatesh Iyer, Shubman Gill, Rahul Tripathi, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Shakib Al Hasan/Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakravarthy, Shivam Mavi
MATCHUPS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Matchups in T20 cricket can sway any result and the final will have some key ones to look out for. We have picked two key matchups of batters who are in form from both sides.
Ruturaj Gaikwad vs Varun Chakravarthy
Chennai’s highest run-getter of the season, Ruturaj Gaikwad would be a key wicket for Team Kolkata in this final. They’d be hoping to introduce their mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy early on against Gaikwad to get his wicket. In three innings, Chavarthy has managed to get the better of Gaikwad once but the Chennai opener has struggled to get runs off the mystery bowler. A key battle indeed.
Shardul Thakur vs Venkatesh Iyer
Venkatesh Iyer has been a breath of fresh air for Team Kolkata and Team Chennai on the other hand would want to see the back of Iyer as soon as possible. The last time these two teams came up against one another, Chennai’s pacer Shardul Thakur managed to get the prized wicket of Iyer. Chennai would be hoping for Thakur to have a similar impact.
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