Despite coming through the group stages by the narrowest of margins, Chennai were simply awesome in their final eliminator against Delhi Daredevils. Undoubtedly helped by Delhi’s bizarre decision to leave Morne Morkel out of the side, they romped to an emphatic 86-run victory.
Having made it through to the final, MS Dhoni’s men now face their biggest challenge in the shape of Kolkata Knight Riders. Although they finished a close second to Delhi in the group table, KKR are the team of the tournament. In Sunil Narine, they have a man who is set to make a huge breakthrough on the international stage later this year.
West Indian Narine is in that happy period of a mystery spinner’s life where nobody has managed to work him out yet. He could ultimately go down the path of Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis – a similar bowler who has sadly lost his way – or he could emulate Shane Warne.
For now, the IPL final could be decided on the battle between Narine and the talented Chennai batsmen who are facing him. Chennai have plenty of depth, underlined by the fact that relative unknown Murali Vijay took charge of CSK’s last game with a breathtaking century, allowing the bigger names to bat around him.
If Vijay fails in the final, the likes of Dhoni, Hussey, Raina and Bravo can take over and while there is immense power in the Knight Riders’ top order, Chennai should shade it in the batting stakes.
If Narine is at his best then KKR have a real chance of breaking Chennai’s run as champions. I backed the Super Kings at the outset of this tournament, though, and the momentum that Dhoni’s men have built coming into the final means that I’m not changing my mind.