After a tight race to the finals, Chennai find themselves in a familiar position. A final in their home ground. Out of the five seasons played, the Chennai Super Kings have not been there only once and even that came more than three years ago. With a majority of their players having been retained through the auctions, Chennai have a distinct advantage of experience. Not that Kolkata would worry about it too much. Under Gautam Gambhir, Kolkata has been a transformed team. This season and the one before has seen their best run in IPL history. Being a first time finalist gives them that extra motivation to do well.
How they've fared:
In the five previous games of both teams, Chennai have lost only once while Kolkata have lost two. This could be a tad misleading though for Kolkata are on a roll and come into the final on the back of three consecutive wins.
The home advantage is one thing that will boost the defending champions hugely. Murali Vijay's return to form has been the icing on the cake. This could also help in shaking off the scratchiness at the top of the order. Dwayne Bravo, Albie Morkel and MS Dhoni have made telling contributions in the middle and lower order. Chennai will be banking on Suresh Raina to hit some form too for the southpaw has the ability to win a match single handedly. The bowling too banks heavily on Ashwin. The offie has shown that he has the right temperament for big games and would be the bowler the Knight riders target to put Chennai under some pressure. The team's temperament overall has been a benchmark for others to emulate and under an icy cool skipper, they have every chance of making it a hat-trick of titles.
Battle of the skippers:
The alleged feud between the Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni adds an extra edge to the contest. Both men have proved to be capable leaders so far and the final sets up an apt platform for the battle to culminate.
Gambhir has managed to get the best out of his men and has led them by example. In comparison, Kolkata have managed to reach the final with ease. Determination and focus have been the key to their success so far and they will have to show that they have no fear of the big stage as they chase a maiden title. Sunil Narine has borne the responsibility of being the strike bowler but has also managed to do so at a good economy rate, making him one of the most valuable bowlers of the season. The rest of the attack has been woven around him and Kolkata will rely on him heavily to make good use of the spin friendly conditions at the M A Chidambaram stadium. Gambhir has a similar role to play with the bat and much like Chennai and Vijay, Kolkata will be upbeat by the return to form of the talismanic Yusuf Pathan. It will be the battle of the nerves that Kolkata have to tackle well if they are to pip one over Chennai in the latter's own backyard.
Chennai hold the aces in the overall head to head record having won 6 of the 10 games played and one being a no result. In their last five meetings too, Chennai have won thrice. However Kolkata will gain much confidence from another stat. They beat Chennai only recently in the tournament at Chennai by a comfortable margin. If anything that shows Kolkata have what it takes to grab the crown from the defending champion.