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Indians favourites to claim IPL crown

The stage is set for a scintillating Grand Final to IPL 2010 as the Mumbai Indians face the runners-up of the inaugural IPL season in the Chennai Super Kings on Sunday night at D Y Patil Stadium.

On form, the Mumbai Indians, who have the home advantage, seem to be the favourites to win their maiden IPL title, after their strong performances in the league phase and in the Semi Final.

A lot will depend on whether their 37 year-old young Captain Sachin Tendulkar takes the field. In their defense though, the Mumbai Indians this year have won ten matches in the league phase before annihilating Anil Kumble’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first Semi Final. The momentum is thus surely with them.

The biggest trump card for the Mumbai Indians is their skipper Sachin Tendulkar. The World’s highest run-getter is in majestic form and is the holder of the Orange Cap heading the batting table with 570 runs from 14 matches.

Tendulkar, winner of the best batting and best captain award categories at the inaugural IPL Sahara Awards in both the Jury and Viewers Choice categories, is the key to Mumbai Indians’ campaign.

But unfortunately, an injury to his right hand sustained during the Semi Final match against the Royal Challengers has put a question mark on him playing the final. Sachin needed five stitches on his hand.

Mumbai Indians would like him to take part in the proceedings because his mere presence would be an inspiration to the team.

The Mumbai Indians, though have shown tremendous fighting spirit in the league phase. The batting of Ambati Rayudu, Saurabh Tiwary, the Trinidadian giant Kieron Pollard, J P Duminy and Shikhar Dhawan have given the necessary depth to the batting for the Mumbai Indians.

Rayudu and the left-hander Tiwary have been associated with important partnerships which have been crucial to Mumbai Indians in many a match. Tiwary in fact, has been a revelation with his big-hitting.

The highly-talented Rayudu has been batting steadily and aggressively and has also excelled in his additional role as a wicketkeeper for the team.

But it is the Pollard factor that could weigh heavily for the Mumbai Indians. He has exploded in the slog overs and his batting has been associated with audacity. He has got into his zone and has spelt danger signals.

Apart from batting, the Mumbai Indians bowling of Lasith Malinga, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Pollard, Dilhara Fernando, with four players ranked in the Top 10 for the Purple Cap has tended to helpe their cause.

Malinga, with his incoming dippers and toe-crushing yorkers has posed problems to the batsmen while Zaheer Khan has swung the ball with great effect. Fernando has disguised the slower ones with good effect while Harbhajan has shown good variations with his off spin bowling.

The Chennai Super Kings on the other hand seem to have their task cut out against a well-oiled Mumbai Indians team. But their trump card is their infallible skipper - Mahendra Singh Dhoni, an inspirational leader, who is able to lead from the front and rally his team when needed.

Dhoni has been captain cool in most of the matches and has been the key to the Chennai Super Kings’ fortunes. After having been unlucky on the first occasion when they lost to Rajasthan Royals in the inaugural IPL final in 2008, he would surely like to finish IPL 2010 on a high note.

But for that to happen it is Dhoni’s much vaunted batting line up that will need to come good at the D Y Patil on Sunday. Other than Suresh Raina and Murali Vijay, the Chennai Super Kings have had little to cheer about from the others.

Hence the roles essayed by the likes of Badrinath, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey (if he plays) will thus become crucial. Albie Morkel, like Pollard, is another big-hitter of the ball and will once again be a key player for the Chennai Super Kings who will need all of these big batters to fire for the CSK “whistle podu” to be heard at the D Y Patil.

Doug Bollinger and off-spinner R Ashwin have been the bowling heroes for Chennai Super Kings. Bollinger wrecked Deccan Chargers with incredible figures of 4/13 with his swing and bounce. Bollinger and Ashwin have been superb in the opening overs.

Of course with the likes of Muralitharan and left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, the Chennai Super Kings too have a bowling arsenal that is second to none for the all-important game on Sunday.

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