Chennai Super Kings v Mumbai Indians, live ITV4, 3.30pm
THE Super Kings are the most successful IPL franchise. Twice champions (beating Mumbai in IPL 3) they have a win percentage of almost 60 since the tournament's inception.
Frankly, they have never looked more powerful. As we said in the tournament preview they are perfectly balanced for success, boasting the hitters, the nurdlers, the all-rounders, the spinners, the death bowlers.
And, of course, an inspirational captain in MS Dhoni. Despite Suresh Raina and Mike Hussey taking the plaudits for their incredible run scoring it is with the ball where CSK are considered strongest.
Only Hyderabad have conceded fewer runs in the tournament. In that regard the final pits the second-best batting side against the second-best bowling outfit. Chennai should keep faith with the side that comfortably beat Mumbai in the qualifier.
Mumbai held their nerve in the semi-final against Rajasthan Royals. It is not something they are known for. Chasing 166 the match was slipping away from them when Kieron Pollard was out in the 18th over but Ambati Rayudu got them back in contention before Harbhajan Singh finished the job.
The big question for Mumbai to answer is: Does Sachin Tendulkar return? The Little Master has not played in the last four matches. He is suffering from a wrist injury which is stubbornly refusing to heal.
In his place Aditya Tare has opened the batting. At an average of 30 and strike rate of 148 it could be said he has done pretty well. Tendulkar, however, only has an average of 22 and a strike rate of 122. Could it be then Tendulkar is being kept out of the side? Based on those numbers he should be.
Here are the last 12 first-innings scores at Eden Gardens in IPL: 131-134-190-150-181-158-128-180-119-159-149-132. It is an average of 151. Chennai have passed 160 seven times out of eight when they have batted first this term.
Mumbai have busted 160 seven times in their last 10 first digs. Mumbai chased 162 to win at KKR earlier this season. Chennai have scored 192 and 173 on the last two occasions when they have batted first against Mumbai. Rain could play a part here which would make it unwise to get long of 160 in case overs are reduced.
The IPL has been difficult to stomach this season and it would appear the house of cards could be about to tumble following corruption allegations. To that end we should perhaps be grateful Rajasthan Royals did not make the final. Chennai, who are also under the scanner after a team official was arrested, in the showpiece against a team who have had three players accused of spot-fixing? No thanks.
As it is the neutrals will hope Mumbai win and the conspiracy theorists are already saying they will. They had beaten CSK twice in the group section only to be humbled in the play-off.
Mumbai's bowling let them down badly in that contest as they only managed one wicket. It is doubtful whether they can be as bad again although the radar of Lasith Malinga, their death bowler, would appear to be skewed after he threw away a good fielding performance with his last six against the Royals. Mumbai need to find focus, something Chennai find easily when the stakes are high.
Mumbai are outsiders at 2.04 and given that siding with the underdogs has paid off throughout we are not about to lose faith. Indeed, Mumbai were our pre-tourny pick for glory so we've seen little that would change our mind. CSK are 1.95.
Finally, a word to the wise. Best wager on the IPL outright if having a match bet because you have no fears about a tie scuppering profits.
Hussey and Raina hit 86 and 82 respectively against Mumbai in the last meeting. But they are unlikely to be bigger than 3.50. Dhoni is a 5.00 shot and Dwayne Bravo 7.20.
Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik, MI's top bats in the competition, both failed last time against CSK. Dwayne Smith, with 68 from 28, got his side into a winning position and he continued his form against the Royals. Tendulkar is the key to this market, though, and prices will not settle until he is either ruled in or out.
Mumbai at 2.04