Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Mumbai Indians (MI) will be battling it out for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019 title and it looks like MI's power-hitter Hardik Pandya seems to have challenged his idol and CSK captain MS Dhoni in the tournament's final on Sunday (May 12).
The day when CSK displayed their ominous form and beat Delhi Capitals in the second Qualifier, Pandya posted a tweet saying that he was all ready for the upcoming game for the IPL throne.
Sharing a picture of him oozing with a badass personality, Hardik Pandya wrote on Twitter, "Ready for the battle royal" which sounded like a warning to MS Dhoni and his team to face him in the final.
MI stunned a rampant Chennai Super Kings in the first Qualifier on Tuesday away from home. They won the match by six wickets and thus gained a direct entry into the final. Post the match, Pandya greeted Dhoni with a hand shake and even took to Twitter to heap praise on the captain cool and what he means to him in life. "My inspiration, my friend, my brother, my legend," Pandya wrote on Twitter followed by a heart-shaped and helicopter emoji.
Following Dhoni's footsteps, Pandya seems to have mastered the signature helicopter shot and has executed in many innings hitting the ball out of the stadium.
Pandya has been an influential figure this campaign for MI, who are looking to win a record fourth title. He has scored 393 runs, most of which came in the death overs that led MI to win the match or set a big total. He has also taken 14 wickets.
Mumbai Indians were third on the league table going into their last group game of the season against Kolkata Knight Riders, who needed to win that match to qualify for the Eliminator. But MI ended up romping to a 9-wicket win. Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya took a combined seven wickets as MI restricted KKR to 133. Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav then ensured that Mumbai chased the target down without much sweat.
While CSK are known to be a team that dominates the group stage, MI are notoriously slow starters. Both sides stayed true to their reputation this season. While MI had a sputtering start to their season, before taking off, CSK remained top of the table for much of the group stages and were one of the first teams to confirm qualification to the playoffs.
Unpredictability is a constant in the IPL, a fact that has been as apparent as ever this season with the numerous collapses and death over run bursts that we have seen in the group stage. There is no reason to believe that the final would be any different. But it will all boil down to the team which holds its nerves on the day of the big battle.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Faf du Plessis, Murali Vijay, Ravindra Jadeja, Dhruv Shorey, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rituraj Gaikwad, Dwayne Bravo, Karn Sharma, Imran Tahir, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Santner, Shardul Thakur, Mohit Sharma, K M Asif, Deepak Chahar, N Jagadeesan, Scott Kuggeleijn.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks and Lasith Malinga.
(With IANS Inputs)