The 2021 Season in the Indian Premier League of Cricket will come to a close on Friday morning, with two-time Champion Kolkata Knight Riders taking on 3-Time Champion Chennai Super Kings. Kolkata, the fourth place team and last team to qualify for the knockout phase, went through RCB and then the 1st Place Delhi Capitals to earn their spot in the Finals, coming after CSK defeated Delhi in the First qualifier game to secure their place in the Finals. This match will feature my all-time favorite player, Dwayne (DJ) Bravo of CSK against my favorite young player that has really burst onto the scene this season with KKR, Venky Iyer. I'll be happy for either one of them, whoever wins, but let's see who has the upper hand going into Friday's Final.

Vivo IPL Trophy

 Let's look at Season Team Stats first:

Team Stats (Season)Chennai Super KingsKolkata Knight Riders
Games Played1516

Chennai undoubtedly has an advantage here on per match stats for the season as a whole. and extra 1.3 Sixes per match, over 1.5 more Fours/match, nearly 9 more runs per wicket, and 20 more runs per match. But this doesn't quite tell the entire story. KKR had a fairly poor first half of the season, which was played in India, but has spring to life since the league restart in UAE occurred. Even with that 'spring to life', their last two games were played in the Sharjah stadium which has proven to be the toughest stadium in the league to score runs on. Let's take a peak at just the UAE legs for these two teams. 

Team Stats (UAE Half)Chennai Super KingsKolkata Knight Riders
Games Played89

I'm getting excited for this game just typing all of this out. Runs/match difference has shrunk, but again, toughest stadium to play in for KKR's last 2 games. Some Fours/Over rate, effectively same Sixes/Over rate. Within a difference of 1 for Fours and Sixes per Match. The biggest change in stat, in my opinion, is the Runs/Wicket increase for KKR. Since Venky game in as opening partner to Shubman Gill, the average overs/wicket has jumped by a half of an over which may not seem like much, but in T20 Cricket that is massive. Anyone who watched the KKR v DC game Tuesday morning will have no trouble seeing why extending that time between wickets is SO important. Had Venky and Shubman gone out sooner, the end of the game becomes that much more disastrous and harder to overcome. 

Lastly, let's look at opponent stats for the season. 

Opponent Stats (Season)Chennai OpponentsKolkata Opponents
Games Played1516

Things just continue getting tighter, on paper, BUT I want to again point out location location location. Sharjah has certainly impacted numbers for KKR, and I'm inclined to say to a point of evening things out had locations been equal. And if you go back to the first two charts, despite the tougher locations for KKR in the 2nd half of the season a lot of their averages have dropped LESS than CSK's have. For example, KKR have a season average of 149 runs/match but 7 runs lower for just UAE leg. CSK had season average of 169 runs/match but a drop of 12 to 157/match in UAE. Similar comparisons can be made for every other stat and their runs and overs per wicket have both improved!

Some intangibles that will make a difference:
Coin Toss
The toss in this match will make a big difference as BOTH teams will want to Bowl First and Bat Second. Honestly, I think whoever wins the toss is very likely to win the match. Why? Well for starters, Chennai has 5 wins of 5 attempts when they have gotten to bat 2nd. KKR is only 2 wins of 5 when they've been forced to bat first.
If you don't know who MS Dhoni is, there are documentaries, books, songs, dances, anything cultural representation you can think of, made for and about Dhoni. He is a LEGEND. He's 'lost his fuckin eyes' as an Australian cricketer recently commented, meaning that he can't hit the ball for shit anymore, but then he came in for Chennai in the Qualifier Knockout Game and smashed home the winning runs, 18 runs off 6 balls to be exact. Big time players show up in Big time games, and MS Dhoni is THE big time player.

All of this is my longwinded way of saying, I don't really have a Winner to pick in this game. I will however make a LIIC pick for this game which is Runs Fall of First Wicket Over 22.5 (-115). I also REALLY like Total Match Sixes Over 10.5 (-135). Other than those two bets, I plan on leaving money aside and enjoying what has been set up to be a phenomenal game of cricket. You can watch on Sling (via Willow TV) or ESPN Plus in the US. Friday Morning, 10 AM ET. Do. Not. Miss. It.