Chennai are in the finals for the third successive time and will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins. For a team, that were on the brink of being eliminated to be in the finals again speaks highly of their temperament and the knowhow of how to play in a knockout game.
The Delhi team made the same errors as they did in their first knockout match against the Kolkata team and showed they had learnt nothing from that loss. To choose to field first in a knockout game is very risky proposition, especially if the pitch is a good one. Then to drop the bowler, who has picked the most wickets in the season and is the owner of the purple cap is baffling indeed.
If you drop your best bowler then why bowl first? There were many such inexplicable even in the first game against Kolkata. If Pathan’s injury was going to cause such an upheaval then they should have picked a bit more experience in Agarkar and Nadeem.
Instead the first over of the innings and that too while the field restrictions were on was given to a bowler playing his first IPL match this season. He was carted for runs and the Chennai team got just the flying start that they needed.
Murali Vijay has shown that when the ball is moving and bouncing a bit then his lack of feet movement lets him down. By giving him an off spinner to begin with, Sehwag just helped him to get going, since Vijay is a brilliant player of spin. Sehwag is an instinctive skipper, but if those instincts are not based on cricketing sense then it can all go horribly wrong and that is exactly what happened to the Delhi Daredevils.More columns
The Kolkata team had four days off which is good to have some niggles like the one for Balaji taken care of, but the danger is that they could be a bit match cold while the home team with two back to back wins are red hot and will be eager to win the trophy in front of their home crowd.
How Gambhir uses his trump card Sunil Narine will be a big factor. He has bamboozled almost all the players from the opposition and if he can get wickets and bowl with the economy rate he has so far then Kolkata may not be chasing too much leather. Gambhir will also have to bat for at least half the number of overs not just because he is in superb form, but he can direct and guide the others too while he is at the crease.
The big difference between the two sides so far is that Chennai has more than one match-turner, as has been seen while the Kolkata team depends mainly on the skipper, and Narine. They have some of the best experienced players in the game like McCullum and Kallis, but it could well be the experience of how to tackle the nerves and pressure of a finals, that could decide who grabs the DLF IPL 2012.
Professional Management Group