The final game of the 2014 IPL will take place on the first day of June, as the Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab go head-to-head in this year’s final.
A rip-roaring competition has seen the eight competing teams complete a convoluted schedule spanning over various nations, but just two remain and we look set for a wonderful conclusion.
The Kolkata outfit booked their place in the final with a comfortable win over Kings XI Punjab in the first qualifier, whilst Punjab eventually managed to plot their way through to the final after a win over the Chennai Super Kings in the second qualifier.
The Kolkata players seem in excellent spirits ahead of the showdown:
Here, we've got all the information you need on what promises to be a thrilling climax to what's been an outstanding competition.
Fixture: Kolkata Knight Riders vs. Kings XI Punjab
Date: Jun. 1 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m. (BST)/10:30 a.m. (ET)
Venue: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore
The game promises to be a fitting end to an enthralling IPL campaign. Both sides look incredibly well matched on paper, and after meeting each other in the first qualifier just days ago, it'll be intriguing to see how they fare when tackling each other for the second time in quick succession.
In that first game between the two sides, it was Robin Uthappa who shone once again for Kolkata. He was superb with the bat once again, notching a record 10th consecutive score of 40 or more in the IPL, as noted here by the Knight Riders' official Twitter account:
It's 10th consecutive 40+ runs for Robin Uthappa! It's a world record in T20 cricket! #KKR— KKR Knight Riders (@kkrofficial) May 28, 2014
He'll be hoping not only to go past 40 for an 11th consecutive time but to push on and make a really big score for his team. A knock of 40 may not be enough to win the game, but if Uthappa can push past 50 and notch a total approaching 100, that would go a long way to seeing his team triumph.
One man who knows all about making those kinds of big scores is Virender Sehwag, who will open the batting for Kings XI. With the pressure on to make a positive start in what was effectively a semi-final against the Chennai Super Kings, Sehwag rose to the occasion.
He nailed 122 runs from just 58 balls, making up the bulk of Punjab’s whopping total of 226/6. Sehwag's knock was a record in the IPL for a Kings XI player, as noted here by Opta Jim:
122 - Virender Sehwag (122*) has hit the highest #IPL score recorded against Chennai Super Kings. Smashed.— OptaJim (@OptaJim) May 30, 2014
Sehwag and Uthappa will set the tone for their team's batting efforts at the top of the order, and so much could hinge on how they perform. If Uthappa can continue to play with forensic consistency, then he'll provide a strong foundation for his team, but if Sehwag gets on a roll, the 35-year-old can win a match almost singlehandedly.
Here are some of the best bits from his latest stellar innings:
If you're after an indicator as to how important a clash this is, you only have to look at the situation regarding the Kolkata bowler Sunil Narine. The West Indian international has decided to play for the Knight Riders in the final instead of his country, putting his chances with the national team at risk, as noted here by ESPN Cricinfo:
A dilemma for Sunil Narine - if he stays on for the IPL final, he could lose his Test spot. http://t.co/7VojrQm0E9— ESPNcricinfo (@ESPNcricinfo) May 30, 2014
Narine has taken 20 wickets in the tournament so far, and his decision to stay on with the Knight Riders will surely lend a major boost to his teammates. He'll be key if the Kolkata outfit are to stagnate the Kings XI's stellar batting line-up, containing the big-hitting foursome of Sehwag, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and George Bailey.
Who do you think will win the final?
Despite Kolkata coming out on top in the first eliminatory, given that batting pedigree you’d have to plump for the Punjab side in this final. In Sehwag and Maxwell, they have two players who can accumulate runs quickly at the top of the order, whilst the likes of Bailey and Miller can crank up the scoring in the latter stages.
Uthappa is obviously in fine fettle for Kolkata, but it's debatable as to whether he can spur his team on to victory in a manner comparable to the aforementioned quartet.
Expect a big knock from a Kings XI man to make the difference and pave the way for their maiden IPL triumph.
All statistics are courtesy of ESPNcricinfo.com.