Mumbai Indians will be well rested following a four-day break and will back themselves for a fourth win over Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings this season.
The two most successful teams of the IPL -- Mumbai Indians (MI) and Chennai Super Kings (CSK), who are also familiar foes -- will clash in a mouth-watering final at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad on May 12 following a rather eventful season that led to some unprecedented moments on the field.
Catch all the live updates from MI vs CSK here.
It can't be disputed that Mumbai go into the final as the favourites, having beaten CSK as many as three times earlier in the tournament including in the Qualifier 1 at Chennai on May 7.
However, statistics count for little before going into the title fight, with both teams being in the situation before multiple times.
Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians can certainly take confidence out of the fact that they have won three out of the four finals that they have been a part of, including the two against CSK in 2013 and 2015.
For three-time champions CSK, who have entered their eighth final, it has been another remarkable season after last year when they made a triumphant return having served a two-year suspension.
Whatever the outcome may be, the final here will add another memorable chapter to their long-standing rivalry.
The way the entire season unfolded will also not be forgotten anytime soon by the fans and experts alike.
With the World Cup beginning right after the IPL, the league had additional significance for the tainted Australian stars -- Steve Smith and David Warner -- who made a successful return after serving out one-year bans for their role in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Warner especially made a roaring return by amassing 692 runs, and formed the most dangerous opening pairing this season alongside Jonny Bairstow. The left-handed opener, who is back in Australia for the World Cup preparation, is set to end as the tournament's highest run-getter.
For India's Hardik Pandya and K L Rahul, it was also a tournament to remember with both hitting top-gear ahead of the World Cup.
Having served a BCCI suspension for their controversial comments on women during a TV show, Pandya and Rahul got their act together and proved to be match-winners for their respective teams.
Pandya is not done yet and we expect him to deliver a match-winning performance for Mumbai in the final. Pandya and KKR's Andre Russell elevated power hitting to another level with their sensational strokeplay this season.
Besides producing plenty of on-field moments to savour, IPL 2019 had its fair share of controversies. Amongst the ones that stood out involved KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin and talismanic CSK captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Early into the competition, Ashwin triggered a massive 'spirit of cricket' debate in the entire cricketing fraternity by 'Mankading' Jos Buttler who was backing up at the non striker’s end. There were some who backed Ashwin's act, while some were against it. The controversial incident even attracted the attention of MCC, the custodian of the game's laws.
Two weeks later, Dhoni's own conduct was questioned after he stormed onto the pitch from the dugout to dispute a no-ball call. It was a rare sight to see Dhoni losing his cool.
Umpires were at the receiving end again after making some poor calls, raising serious questions over the standard of Indian umpires.
The issue of over-rate too will have to be taken into account while planning for the next season with some of the league games stretching beyond midnight.
Bringing the focus back to the final on Sunday, CSK will have to redraw their plans against Mumbai, who have beaten them convincingly three times this season.
Rohit and Co. have dealt with CSK's spin threat smartly while other teams' batsmen struggled against the experience trio of Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh and Ravindra Jadeja. CSK pacer Deepak Chahar too has been impressive with 19 wickets so far.
Going into the Qualifier 2, the lack of runs from Shane Watson's bat was a concern, but he regained his touch with a 32-ball 50 against Delhi Capitals.
Mumbai, on the other hand, will be well rested following a four-day break , and backing themselves for a fourth win over Dhoni's side this season and fourth IPL title.
Timing – 7.30 pm
Venue – Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad.
Where to watch – Star Sports 1/1HD/1 Hindi/1HD Hindi/1 Tamil/1 Telugu/1 Kannada/1 Bangla/Select 1/Select 1HD. Online viewers can catch the action live on Hotstar.
Head to head
Mumbai are the only team to enjoy a dominant head-to-head record against CSK in the IPL. Of the 29 games played between these two sides, MI have won 17 matches compared to Chennai’s 12 victories.
This season too MI have been dominating CSK, beating them in all three games that they’ve played so far. In their first league stage game at the Wankhede Stadium, MI won by 37 runs thanks to a Man of the Match performance by Hardik Pandya, who scored 25 runs off 8 balls before returning figures of 3/20 with the ball.
When MI travelled to Chennai for the return leg, Rohit scored a quick 67 taking Mumbai to a total of just 155/4. However, a brilliant bowling performance lead by Lasith Malinga (4/37) helped MI win by 46 runs.
Both teams then met in Qualifier 1 at Chennai where Mumbai Indians won by 6 wickets thanks to an impressive performance by Suryakumar Yadav (71* off 54 balls).
There are no fresh injuries for both sides ahead of this fixture. CSK will most likely bring back Murali Vijay to the playing XI after experimenting with Shardul Thakur as an additional bowler for their last game.
Mitchell McClenaghan could return for MI in the place of Jayant Yadav depending on the pitch conditions.
Prediction: Who will win?
After beating Chennai three times this season, the chances of Mumbai making it 4-0 this season seem very high. However, one cannot write off CSK, and it will be a tough game for both teams looking to win their fourth IPL title.
Betting odds (Betfair):
Chennai Super Kings: 1
Mumbai Indians: 4/5
Other popular bets can be viewed on Oddschecker.com.
Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium Pitch Report: The track at Hyderabad has been known to assist both the batsman and the bowlers. We can expect an even contest between both bat and ball with the spinners playing an important role. Three 200 plus totals have been scored at this venue this season and we could be in for another high-scoring encounter.
Moneycontrol Dream XI: Quinton de Kock, Shane Watson, Rohit Sharma (C), Suryakumar Yadav, MS Dhoni (WK), Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah and Imran Tahir.
MI Possible XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan/Jayant Yadav , Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah.
CSK Possible XI: Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Dhruv Shorey/ Murali Vijay, MS Dhoni (C & WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir.
Players to watch out for
Hardik Pandya (MI)
The Mumbai all-rounder has enjoyed a great season so far and will be eager to help his team get past the final hurdle. He has 386 runs and 14 wickets this season.
Imran Tahir (CSK)
Chennai’s leading wicket-taker needs just one wicket to finish as the top bowler this season. He has 24 wickets at an economy of 6.65 and is second only to Kagiso Rabada who has 25 wickets at an economy of 7.82.(With Inputs from PTI)The Great Diwali Discount!
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