CSK vs KKR Prediction: Who will win today's IPL 2021 Final match?

Two World Cup-winning captains face off in an IPL final for the first time ever
Two World Cup-winning captains face off in an IPL final for the first time ever
Sai Krishna

It simply had to be MS Dhoni who would take the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) into yet another Indian Premier League (IPL) final. Smashing 18 off six balls after promoting himself ahead of Ravindra Jadeja in a typically gutsy move other captains would only dream of, Dhoni set a date with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

The last game of this auction cycle, the IPL 2021 final, will have major implications on the future of the league. With two new franchises set to enter the fray and next year's retention rules still to be decided, this season's summit clash might be the last time we see several players across both sides play together.

Two World Cup-winning captains will lock horns in an IPL final for the first time in history, but their experience in the cash-rich league varies drastically. While Dhoni has been here 10 times, nine with CSK, Morgan will be at the toss of an IPL final in his first full season as captain.

KKR have never lost an IPL final, but what they have lost is each league game against CSK this year. The Men in Yellow overcame an Andre Russell blitz to win by 18 runs in the first phase before a last-ball thriller in Abu Dhabi ended in CSK's favor. But past records and laurels amount to nothing in an IPL final - a fact both CSK and KKR will be perfectly aware of.

IPL 2021: Well-rested CSK seek ruthlessness on hugely important day

Dinesh Karthik has been out of touch recently<p>
Dinesh Karthik has been out of touch recently

CSK have lost five of the eight IPL finals they've played in so far, which is an underwhelming record given the stature of the team and the man at the helm. A combination of poor decision-making in crunch moments and simply being outplayed on the night has led to the three-time champions licking their wounds more often than not at the end of an IPL edition.

But there's a certain ruthlessness to the current CSK outfit. Even though they barely held onto a top-two spot after losing each of their last three league matches and needed a fiery cameo in Qualifier 1 from a man who hadn't contributed anything with the bat until then, CSK have always been in control in IPL 2021.

The venue changes that have killed the momentum of brilliant T20 teams like the Mumbai Indians haven't affected CSK as much. In fact, they've only made CSK better. Now, five days after their win over the Delhi Capitals at the same venue, they are embarking on their biggest challenge yet in IPL 2021.

In KKR, who've played two games in the last four days, CSK are up against a team that isn't well-rested. But the makeup of the KKR side means they should be fresh for the final encounter. With only two pacers, KKR have relied on their spin choke to derail opposition batting lineups. If Andre Russell is fit, though, he should come into the playing XI at the expense of Shakib Al Hasan, who may not be as effective in Dubai as he was in Sharjah.

Spin up front might be the manner in which Eoin Morgan targets the CSK openers, although Ruturaj Gaikwad won't miss the odd burst of pace and bounce from Lockie Ferguson. CSK need to pick the bowlers they'll attack, which won't be easy against a bowling lineup as well-rounded as KKR's.

Meanwhile, Deepak Chahar - who picked up four wickets earlier this season against KKR - will eye a way out of his prolonged lean patch in the UAE. Without much swing on offer, he will have to rely on his smarts to shackle the in-form Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer. Moeen Ali will also be key against the plethora of left-handers KKR possess.

The toss will play a crucial role in the IPL 2021 final. While KKR have looked extremely shaky while batting second, the chasing team is expected to have an advantage in Dubai. CSK have won each of their six games in IPL 2021 where they've chased, but runs on the board do matter in a big game. It'll be interesting to see the approach the two teams take.

It's impossible to predict the outcome of an IPL final, since both teams are here for a reason and have extremely similar chances of lifting the silverware at the end of the day. But it's hard not to lean slightly in the direction of CSK.

Most of KKR's top order and their bowling attack have never been in an IPL final before and may not be able to immediately adjust to the significance of the occasion.

On the other hand, making a final is almost a habit for CSK, who have retained their experienced core throughout this auction cycle. Experience counts more than anything else in an IPL final, and MS Dhoni might add another feather to his already brimming captaincy cap.

Prediction: CSK to win the IPL 2021 final

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Edited by Sai Krishna


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