Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Preview: Final – Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians
Dravid, Tendulkar in the spotlight as undefeated Royals take on mighty Indians
The Final of the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 will be a celebration of cricket. Two legends of the game –Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar – will be seen in action perhaps for the last time in coloured clothing when the Rajasthan Royals take on the mighty Mumbai Indians.
The Rajasthan Royals have cruised to the final. After registering convincing wins in each of their Group matches, the Royals turned giant killers when they defeated the formidable Chennai Super Kings in the semi-final to sail through to the final.
The Mumbai Indians were on the brink of elimination before their stupendous performance in their final Group fixture, against the Perth Scorchers, turned things around for them. Last night, they overcame an energetic Trinidad & Tobago side to progress to the title clash.
The Mumbai Indians have a star-studded line-up and should begin as favourites. They are a settled unit, have experience and quality on their side, and must be high on confidence after their recent results.
Despite having a 100 percent record in the lead up to the Final, the Royals will start as underdogs for two reasons. Firstly, all their previous matches were played in their own backyard – at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, a venue they know very well. They will now be playing at a venue alien to them. In addition, the surface at Delhi will assist spinners and the Royals do not have too many options in that department. The Royals also have big decisions to make on the composition of their playing XI with Brad Hodge ruled out of the match due to the injury he sustained in the semi-final.
Sunday, October 6, 2013, 8 pm IST
Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
Rajasthan Royals’ story has been about players making the most of their limited abilities consistently, combining together as a force and overhauling some very formidable opponents. Skipper Rahul Dravid has not had the best of tournaments with the bat, but today might just be his day. The team will need more from their skipper; in what is a largely young and inexperienced side, Dravid will need to work his magic on his players to ensure they don’t get influenced by the pressure of this final.
Ajinkya Rahane has been batting like a dream. Temperament, shot selection, consistency, footwork, ability to build innings and play for the long haul – the Mumbai-lad has impressed with various facets of his batting. With half-centuries in his three previous innings, Rahane will be brimming with confidence – and his team will be hoping he can carry that form into this big match. Shane Watson will need to come good on this big day too; he is the one player in the Royals ranks capable of demolishing oppositions single-handedly. The Royals will be faced with a very big decision – does Watson bat at No.3 and force the issue up front or do they keep him for the final overs?
On the bowling front, Pravin Tambe has been a surprise performer for the Royals; the 41-year-old leg-spinner has this happy knack of picking up the big guns – Suresh Raina, Dwayne Bravo, Ryan ten Doeschate and Alviro Petersen being some of them. James Faulkner has been a consistent performer with the ball since his addition to the Royals line-up and he will be expected to give his team early strikes yet again. The deceptively quick Rahul Shukla, and Kevon Cooper have been very good with the ball; they will be expected to carry on the good work for one final time in the competition.
Among the decisions Dravid will have to make is to decide on who will replace Hodge in the XI; the team has summoned the services of Kusal Perera and Sachin Baby. Could either of them find a spot in the XI, or should Dravid look at boosting the spin department by including the young left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh?
MI is a settled side and skipper Rohit Sharma will not have too many things to address. Sachin Tendulkar couldn’t have timed his return to form any better. After managing just 20 runs in his first three innings in the competition, the Little Master announced himself with a fluent 35 in the semi-final. Rohit Sharma and opener Dwayne Smith, who are in stupendous form, will be the key characters in the Mumbai Indians’ batting plans. Among the bowlers, the focus will be on the spin pair of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha. Nathan Coulter-Nile has been very impressive; apart from clocking speeds around 140 kph consistently, he has also bowled the right lines and lengths and has made scoring very difficult.
The one other challenge before the Mumbai Indians is whether they will be able to recover from last night’s semi-final quickly and be fresh, charged up and motivated for the all-important final.
RR & MI have so far met on 14 occasions. The Mumbai Indians have an edge over their opponents with a 7-6 record.
In four meetings this year, the teams share two wins apiece. While both teams registered wins in their respective home matches in IPL 2013, the Mumbai Indians got the better of the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2013 Playoff game. In the most recent meeting between the two teams – in the inaugural match of the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 – the Rajasthan Royals registered a convincing seven-wicket victory.
The Mumbai Indians emerged triumphant in their only previous appearance in the Final of the CLT20. They defeated the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 31 runs in the title clash of the 2011 edition of the tournament played at Chennai.
The Mumbai Indians have the only bowler who has been clocked bowling at speeds of over 150 kph in the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 – Mitchell Johnson.
The Rajasthan Royals have broken through early almost always. The opening partnerships against the Royals in the five matches this season are 25, 18, 16, 13 and 0.
Pragyan Ojha has picked up a wicket in his first over in each of his last three matches; he picked up a wicket with his third delivery against the Lions, got a wicket with his second delivery against the Perth Scorchers, and most recently picked up a wicket with his very first ball against Trinidad & Tobago.
Rajasthan Royals’ Pravin Tambe needs two more wickets to get the Golden Wicket award; he currently has 10 wckets, one less than Sunil Narine’s tally of 11 wickets.
This match brings the curtain down on a very competitive and enthralling Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013. Apart from taking home the magnificent CLT20 trophy, the winners will carry home a cheque for USD 2,500,000. The runners-up will get richer by USD 1,300,000.