The IPL 2014 final looks like it's going to be a contest between the best batting lineup - Kings XI Punjab - against the best bowling team - Kolkata Knight Riders - in the tournament. But in that mega war, there exist quite a number of battles, battles which will determine the outcome of the final to be played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore.
Let's take a look at what could make or break either team's fortunes.
- Toss: Oh so crucial in a big game – George Bailey and Gautam Gambhir will want to call this right. Both teams will probably want to bowl first, even if they got to the final after defending a total. If they do bat first, though, a big total will be a must, especially for the Kings XI Punjab.
- Robin Uthappa vs Mitchell Johnson: Uthappa has just been in absolutely stunning form and will deservedly take the Orange Cap honours at the end of the tournament, barring any major reverse. The Karnataka man will be extra keen to perform at his home ground, and the onus will be on Johnson, and his searing pace, to quell the early momentum that Uthappa has provided over the past ten matches for KKR. Early wickets of Uthappa and Gambhir, and the Knight Riders might just look like a deer in headlights, having not faced that prospect for so long.
- Virender Sehwag vs Morne Morkel: Sehwag announced himself in IPL 2014 in the most spectacular fashion in the Qualifier 2 against the Chennai Super Kings, and the Delhi Dasher will want to continue his brilliant form in the final. Morne Morkel, and Umesh Yadav, considering the good recent form of the India pace bowler, will be the men given the task of stopping Sehwag from marauding all over them.
- Sunil Narine vs Glenn Maxwell: In Qualifier 1 we didn't quite get to see the two most exciting players in IPL 2014 go head-to-head. The IPL final might just be the platform for one of them to come up trumps. The Chinnaswamy is a batsman's paradise and Maxwell will look to take advantage of that; but then there is no better bowler than Narine to sap the attack switch out of any batsman.
- Sunil Narine vs the batsmen that take guard in the final overs: Narine will undoubtedly bowl two of the final four overs, maybe even three of the final six, and KXIP need to find a way to get as many runs as possible out of the unflappable West Indian. Narine is sacrificing his Test place in the West Indies lineup for this final, and he will not want it to be for nought – so watch out KXIP batsmen.
- Spinners: Piyush Chawla has quite enjoyed himself against KXIP, picking up seven wickets in three matches, with 23 runs being the highest he has conceded over four overs in those three games – he only gave away 19 each in his other two matches. Chawla and Shakib Al Hasan will be expected to give Narine good company. At the other end, you have the extremely impressive Akshar Patel and leg-spinner Karanveer Singh. KKR definitely hold the aces in the spin stakes, but the KXIP duo might just spring a surprise or two.
So many things to look forward to, in what looks like being an exciting, yet extremely tactical, battle.