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Match facts
Sunday, April 25
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big Picture
Pitches have tired, outfields have grown barer during an unforgiving Indian summer, but for 45 days the players have braved sapping conditions, excruciating travel (made more excruciating by security concerns), IPL parties, inane interviews and columns, explosions outside the stadium just before a match, injuries, cramps, fines and reprimands to keep this league rolling. On the way some of them have played in the breathtaking environs of Dharamsala, many of them have put in special performances, some of them have announced themselves, some have shown aspects of their game others didn't know existed, some have found second winds. Two teams, though, have one final issue to settle before we move onto more pressing matters like the World Twenty20 and ascertaining how clean the IPL is.

The image of the third IPL, though, will remain MS Dhoni upper-cutting himself in the jaw like a pumped-up boxer, upon having hit a match-winning six from Dharamsala into McLeodganj. Nobody has seen Dhoni react so emotionally on a cricket field, and Dhoni has quite a body of work behind him to draw that cool, composed image from. And about a fortnight ago, when Dhoni's team was asphyxiating a Mumbai Indians chase in the merciless Chennai humidity, Sachin Tendulkar, short on fluids, retired hurt, saw what resembled a choke and came back to try and win what was then just another match for Mumbai, with their semi-final place not under much doubt. Both men, one perhaps India's greatest cricketer, one who has the makings of India's greatest captain, represent how much this means to their teams.

Form guide (most recent first)
Mumbai WLWWW
Chennai WWLWL

Team talk
There's no decision yet on whether the injured Tendulkar will play, but if he can hold the bat, expect him to open for Mumbai. "It's his call," was all their coach, Robin Singh, could offer. "If he is not available, we have our back-up plans." Kieron Pollard is fit. Mumbai will be tempted to think about Ali Murtaza ahead of Abhishek Nayar because of the nature of the pitch. In that light, JP Duminy weighs over Dwayne Bravo.

Mumbai (probable) 1 Sachin Tendulkar (capt.), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Saurabh Tiwary, 4 Ambati Rayudu (wk), 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Ali Murtaza/Abhishek Nayar, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Dilhara Fernando, 10 Zaheer Khan, 11 Lasith Malinga

On a turning pitch, Chennai have no reason to divert from the three-spinner attack.

Chennai (probable) 1 Matthew Hayden, 2 M Vijay, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt. & wk), 5 S Badrinath, 6 Albie Morkel, 7 S Anirudha, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Doug Bollinger, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 Shadab Jakati

Mumbai 3 Chennai 3
On a flat pitch at the Brabourne Stadium, Chennai failed to defend 180, but on a more difficult Chennai pitch, they defended 165 with aplomb.

In the spotlight
Law of averages says Matthew Hayden is due a single-handed match-winning blast. In an illustrious career, a Man-of-the-Match performance in a big tournament final is missing. In 12 innings since his Mongoose-charged 93, Hayden's top score has been 35, and his strike-rate has been 117.2. Neither Chennai nor Hayden expects this, and he will want to set things right.

Dhoni v Tendulkar Twenty20 games, if not won by a single-handed blasts, usually come down to captains, finals more so than others. These two captains also happen to be important batsmen of their line-ups. If Tendulkar has been remarkably consistent, setting up matches, Dhoni has been mercurial, retrieving lost matches. That holds true for their captaincy too.

Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan have been the understated stars of Mumbai's campaign. Of all teams of the IPL, you don't want to be needing 10 an over against Mumbai: these guys are mean, accurate and wily. It will be interesting to see how Dhoni, Hayden and Co. go against these yorker machines. They do tend to make a bit of a mockery of spinning tracks.

Prime numbers and trivia

* Suresh Raina, with 1318 runs to his name, has overtaken Adam Gilchrist as the leading scorer in all IPL matches. Tendulkar is fifth with 1122 runs.
* Raina also holds the record for most catches, 26, for a non-wicketkeeper.

"We have been doing well with our fast bowlers, so how does it concern me?"
Mumbai coach Robin Singh is confident the pitch won't hamper their fast-bowlers-based attack

"It gives us a slight edge that Mumbai have never been in a final before, and we have."
S Badrinath looks to draw on the experience of having lost the final in the first IPL. He is never the one to try mindgames

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