New Delhi: It is the first time that Kolkata Knight Riders will play for the Indian Premier League trophy, on Sunday. The opponents in Chennai Super Kings have however been here twice before and a look back at the title clashes in the previous two years can help Gautam Gambhir and his team strategise better.
In the previous two editions of the IPL, Chennai managed to win the toss and chose to bat both occasions.
In 2011, Royal Challengers stood in the way of MS Dhoni and his side but a solid batting display left the visitors at Chepauk reeling to eventually surrender by a mammoth 58 runs.
What Chennai managed in the previous final was a formidable total of 205 powered by the opening three batsmen - Michael Hussey (63 off 45), Murali Vijay (95 off 52) and Dhoni (22 off 13). These three batsmen continue to be the most formidable and Kolkata will be keen on seeing their backs, whether batting first or chasing.
Add Ravindra Jadeja to the equation this year and Chennai's batting gets the depth that will not let Kolkata relax at any stage of the match unless the tail is left exposed to their bowlers.
The spin of Ashwin brought him three wickets in the final match last year and that can be another crucial factor against Kolkata. He bowled with the confidence that Bangalore needed to bring down a huge total. Attacking him with a senseless approach can hurt Kolkata's famed batting too as in 2011, despite Chris Gayle's stunning form, Ashwin removed him without allowing him a single run.
In 2010, Mumbai Indians had a chance to go past Chennai and claim the trophy. They were asked to field and did well to restrict a forceful batting to 168. Dilhara Fernando then, claimed two wickets and returned with an economy of 5.75 from his four.
Chennai bowlers however returned to defend with vengeance. Six bowlers were rotated and five got at least a wicket. Ashwin did not manage a wicket but his economy of 6 from his four overs, including a maiden, was enough to strangulate Mumbai.
Fast forward two years and Kolkata Kngiht Riders will know that although Dough Bollinger and Muttiah Muralidaran are not with Chennai, they continue to have quality bowling options including that of all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
While restricting Chennai's batting, on the assumption that the hosts do bat first, is vital, it will be equally important to not under-estimate the bowling.
Kolkata have all the experience and the ripe form needed to win the title. However, form and experience was also not missing from Bangalore in 2011 and Mumbai a year before that. What the visitors need to do on Sunday however, will be to bring their all-round abilities to the fore, improve it a few notches and put the basics into place to put Chennai on the back-foot to earn their first right to be called IPL champions.