The IPL will be back where it started when Saturday’s final rolls around - in Chennai, where the home team will be looking to complete a whole season of going unbeaten at the Chepauk
The Chennai Super Kings won all seven of their league games at home - starting with a two-run success against Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening clash of the tournament - making them firm favourites for a final against either Mumbai or Bangalore, who face off on Friday.
Chennai coach Stephen Fleming insists that won’t make them complacent, but does feel that the extra days off they’ve had due to their victory in the first IPL Qualifier will give them an advantage, with their opposition forced to play two games in two days.
“It is nice to be back at home. We certainly do not want to take home conditions for granted, but we have been comfortable playing at home this year. If we wanted to play the final, it is certainly at home,” said Fleming.
“It is a huge relief that we made the final because there are pressures in such games. Back-to-back games will be tough to play in Chennai.
“We did know that if we came back to Chennai we would be favourites because of our energy at home. These are the big things.”
Fleming is not generally a boastful man, preferring instead to err on the side of understatement. But he did admit a certain pleasure in seeing his plan come together of picking players at the auction who would be suited to the Chennai conditions.
“We were smart enough to pick up a side that will play well at home. I am proud of that,” he said. “There will surely be some advantage (in the final) because we are conditioned to play at home.
“Will the conditions change? We have to wait and see. I cannot see much variations based on the manner of cricket that has been played on the pitches.”
While Chennai’s spinners have often been a key strength on a slower Chepauk wicket, the depth of their batting has also ensured that they can chase down just about any score - as Bangalore found out on Tuesday.
Allrounder Albie Morkel played an important role in that victory, coming in at number six to smash 28 from 10 balls, and Fleming admitted he was pleased to see the South African pull it off after Chennai had stuck by him through some leaner times.
“It was a matter of giving him the confidence that he is good enough,” Fleming said of Chennai’s insistence on picking Morkel.
“Often it becomes a little difficult for him, as he gets to bat only in the last two or three overs of the innings. But he has really done a good job and his innings against RCB the other night was really exceptional.”