So here we are finally. After an almost seemingly endless tournament, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings are the two teams that have made it through to the summit clash of the league. At first glance, the sides that have made it here don’t raise any element of surprise; they always had the talent to reach the top. However, KKR have never realised their potential till this edition, and there was a stage in a tournament when it seemed CSK’s golden run will finally end this season. That is what makes the final of IPL 2012 an intriguing one. Two simple questions will determine the winner of the fifth edition. Will Kolkata come up with yet another dominating effort? And, which Chennai will turn up for the game on Sunday -- the one that has struggled to live up to expectations or the one that has rejuvenated itself post the backdoor entry.
KKR SWOT analysis
Strengths: Kolkata’s biggest plus has been the consistent performance of their skipper Gautam Gambhir at the top of the order. Every time the left-hander has performed, Kolkata have done well. His aggressive tactics automatically put the opposition on the back foot. Also, they have some genuinely talented match-winners in Jacques Kallis, Brett Lee and of course Sunil Narine, who will be the man to watch out for in the final.
Weaknesses: While KKR have excelled when Gambhir has done well, they have also faced numerous batting collapses during the course of the tournament. This is one aspect of the game they would have to be wary of. It would be interesting to see how Kolkata react if Gambhir falls early.
Opportunities: This is the first time Kolkata have made it this far, which gives them an added incentive to go all the way. It won’t be easy against a buoyant Chennai. However, the fact that they have beaten them at Chennai, the venue for the final, will give them confidence.
Threats: That KKR don’t have the experience of featuring in the IPL final before could go against them, as also the fact that their opponents are winners of the previous two editions.
CSK SWOT analysis
Strengths: Chennai’s forte lies in their big-match winning ability. Qualifying for the play-offs almost by fluke, they ousted Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils, coming up with their best game. All they need now is to replicate the effort for one last time this season. They have the players with the right temperament and experience for the occasion. Murali Vijay has lifted his game at the most opportune moment while the likes of Mike Hussey and R Ashwin have grown in confidence in recent games. Dwayne Bravo and skipper M S Dhoni is a fearsome combo that can destroy any attack. Even if KKR get past them, they have to contend with AlbieMorkel.
Weaknesses: Unlike earlier seasons, CSK haven’t looked like a force to reckon with for most part. It has only been the last two games where their performance has been top-notch. There is no reason why they can’t falter again.
Opportunities: CSK have a great chance to make it three in three. Having beaten MI and DD comprehensively, they ought to be extremely confident.
Threats: There are a couple of players in the KKR camp that can derail the ‘Chennai Express’. One is Yusuf Pathan, who made the difference against Delhi, and the second is Narine, whose spin mystery has been an unending saga.