The unmatched legacy and hegemony created by the galacticos of Mumbai Indians will be thoroughly challenged by a young Mumbaikar Shreyas Iyer, who will lead a passionate-but-unpredictable Delhi Capitals in a cracker of an Indian Premier League final here on Tuesday.
After 52 days of the most closely-contested and widely-watched edition played on alien land in the backdrop of the raging Covid-19 pandemic, the BCCI can pat itself for pulling off a near flawless tournament that gave people a chance to withdraw from prime time negativity that dominated the air space.
And now, it’s the coronation time with IPL’s most successful skipper Rohit Sharma itching to win his fifth title amid a stormy couple of weeks.
On the other hand, the Capitals, a team that had flattered to deceive for a dozen editions, will finally realise its potential on the grand stage of T20 cricket.
There hasn’t been too many editions where the two most deserving teams squared off in a summit clash unlike this edition where Mumbai reached the finals winning 10 out of their 15 games while Capitals, despite a slump, managed to triumph in nine out of their 16 games.
There haven’t been too many teams that have shown the flair and balance of Mumbai Indians, an envy for any opposition.
Sample this scary piece of statistic and one can gauge the might of Mumbai Indians. In all, their players have hit 130 sixes compared to Capitals’ 84.
Quinton de Kock’s panache has a foil in Rohit Sharma’s style although proving a point to all and sundry about his hamstring injury would also be on the Indian’s mind.
Suryakumar Yadav’s (60 boundaries and 10 sixes) epic “I am there” gesture after a league game against RCB is now a part of the MI folklore and the elegant way of handling fast bowlers has only exponentially increased his fan-base.
Ishan Kishan, in his five and half feet frame, has managed to hit an astounding 29 sixes while Kieron Pollard is a bonafide legend with 190 plus strike-rate.
If Kagiso Rabada (29 wickets) and Anrich Nortje (20 wickets) get rid of this lot, DC will have to deal with the Pandya brothers — the cool Krunal and the flamboyant Hardik — both of whom are imposing and capable of striking muscular hits.
Shikhar Dhawan (603 runs), who has enjoyed his best IPL, will have to do something out of the ordinary to tackle the yorkers from Jasprit Bumrah and those vicious incoming deliveries from Trent Boult, which will tail in at the last moment.
In the three contests this season, Mumbai Indians have blown away Capitals in one-sided affairs but all will come to a naught if Iyer, a quintessential Mumbaikar, can ensure that his team are fourth time lucky.
The second qualifier showed that they have somewhat found their ideal combination with Marcus Stoinis’ all-round game (352 runs and 12 wickets) and ability to open the innings bringing in the required balance.
Shimron Hetmyer’s six-hitting prowess will also be required considering that Iyer and Rishabh Pant haven’t exactly fired for the better part of the tournament.
Another big factor for the Capitals could be Ravichandran Ashwin’s quality as a Powerplay operator.
A crafty Ashwin can always alter the length and check how much of an impact his bowling would have on Rohit’s hamstring if he tries to dance down the track.
The sub-plots and little battles within are going to be enticing.
These include a young captain Iyer trying to show his wares, Ricky Ponting stamping his credentials as an astute tactician, and Suryakumar ensuring that chairman of selectors Sunil Joshi eats a humble pie.
IPL final will grab all eyeballs but possibly miss that man from Jharkhand who has been a regular feature in the finals since 2017.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be missed in an IPL final but then cricket just like life will go on at its own pace.