Both finalists of IPL 5, Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings, have had their stand out players who have carried their sides into the title clash. Both also have captains who have led from the front and whose performances will again be crucial to their teams' chances in the summit clash. A look at all the players who are likely to make a huge difference in the result of the IPL final.
Gautam Gambhir: The skipper has led from the front and has proved his team's owner Shah Rukh Khan's decision to revamp the squad at the end of season 3 was a right one. With six fifties and a strike-rate of about 145, Gauti finished the league stage only behind Chris Gayle in the list of top-scorers. In fact KKR rely so heavily on their captain that if the opposition gets Gambhir out early they will really fancy their chances of lifting the Cup.
Sunil Narine: The man with the mystery ball and the magic arm. His deliveries have continued to fox batsmen and along with Gambhir he is the biggest reason behind KKR's success this season. With an economy of under six and 24 wickets in 14 games, Narine is the second highest wicket-taker this season with only Delhi's Morne Morkel with more scalps. After having guided them into their maiden final, KKR will depend on the West Indian spinner to take them all the way to the title.
Shakib Al Hasan: He has been given only seven games but has proved his worth in the short run. Shakib has picked up 11 wickets and struck a match winning 42 on a difficult pitch in KKR's last league game against Pune Warriors that sealed the second spot for Kolkata in the points table.
Jacques Kallis: He hasn't exactly been in swashbuckling form getting runs at a strike-rate that is marginally over 100 but he has provided stability at the top of the order with 340 runs in 16 games. Add to that his 14 wickets and the all-rounder again shows just why he is one of the greatest ever to have played the game.
Manoj Tiwary: With Yusuf Pathan having a torrid tournament, barring the last game, the responsibility in the middle-order has increased on Tiwary. He hasn't had an exceptional tournament but has been the best of the middle-order. He will be expected to step up for Kolkata especially if Gambhir departs early.
MS Dhoni: He rarely sparkled in the league phase but has been at his best since the playoffs began, mirroring the Super Kings' performance. In the playoffs, Dhoni has played some of the shots of the tournament, including the longest hit of the season and two of his trademark helicopter sixes as Super Kings went on a rampage. His late innings burst will again be vital to CSK's success as will be his astute captaincy.
Mike Hussey: It may have been Murali Vijay's blinder in the IPL eliminator that blew away the Delhi Daredevils but it will be his opening partner Michael Hussey's consistency that Chennai will bank on for the final. Dhoni benched their most reliable batsman of the league phase, Faf du Plessis, to make way for Hussey in the playing XI once he joined midway through the tournament after fulfilling his international duties. And Mr. Cricket hasn't disappointed his captain so far.
Dwayne Bravo: Chennai have not one but two fantastic allrounders in Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel who can turnaround a match on their own - with ball or bat. Both have been brilliant for their team in patches but given how late down the order Albie comes and how Bravo has been smashing boundaries in the playoffs it may just be the West Indian playing the bigger hand in the game.
Ben Hilfenhaus: He has been one of the biggest factors in Chennai's reversal of fortunes since making a dismal start to the season. His addition after missing first half of the season due to international duties has brought balance in the side and added teeth to Chennai's bowling. His early wickets, especially if he gets rid of KKR skipper Gambhir, would give Chennai a huge edge. The Australian has so far picked up 12 wickets in 8 matches at an economy rate of under 7.
R Ashwin: With 13 wickets in 17 matches Ashwin hasn't been as impressive this season. However, with the final being played at Chepauk one can expect the spinner to play a big role. He already did in the eliminator against Delhi, which was also contested at Chepauk, when he picked up 3/23 - his best bowling figures of IPL 5.
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