Ed Hawkins analyses the showpiece in Delhi on Sunday and reckons that the Royals have what it takes to prove their superiority...
"And if you are still undecided about Rajasthan, ask yourself this: what other competition would see an unbeaten side as underdogs in a final?"
Mumbai Indians v Rajasthan Royals
Start time: 15:30
TV: live on Eurosport
The Indians are on course for an IPL-Champions League double after strolling past T&T in Delhi yesterday. They were grateful to the unheralded bowling skills of Kieron Pollard, who took one for 16 in three overs, while Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pragyan Ojha were also miserly. That discipline allowed the batsmen to play with freedom and Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar got off to the sort of start which they could hardly lose from. It was an impressive effort from the Indians, who have looked disjointed and lazy at times in the tournament. But it has all come good at the right time.
The Royals have been the best side in the tournament, winning all five of their matches. There is a note of caution, however. All of those were at their home fortress in Jaipur, stretching their impregnable record at their stadium to 12 successive wins. So their biggest worry ahead of this game is that it is in Delhi. Their second worry is the loss of Brad Hodge to injury. He injured his knee in the semi-final win over Chennai Super Kings when he collided with Shane Watson. Fellow Aussie Shaun Tait is in line for a recall.
149-118-153 are the three first-innings scores so far at Delhi. That combined with the following totals in the previous IPL (165-114-169-161-120-183-192-132) is an average of 151. The average in the whole tournament is 157 so it would be folly to go long of 160, particularly as both these sides are in good form in the field.
There is a Bollywood-plot to this Champions League tournament. Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, elder statesmen of Mumbai and the Royals respectively, are set to bow out of the T20 game after this clash. Indeed, Dravid will not play in any format again. Fitting that such celebrated heroes will call time on a grand stage.
Mumbai are favourites to give the Little Master the send off many would argue he deserves. At 1.738/11, however, they hold little appeal. The Royals are 2.3411/8 and are the wager. We have not been impressed by Mumbai and in the face of a Rajasthan side which is bristling with confidence, they could suffer.
Often we have written about the Royals' sensational run at home, coming to the conclusion that there is no real reason why they are unbeatable. Perhaps it is because they are a darn good side? They need runs from Dravid and Watson, but otherwise there is little for them to fear. Mumbai's gun players have not fired, either. And if you are still undecided about Rajasthan, ask yourself this: what other competition would see an unbeaten side as underdogs in a final? The answre is a bonkers one. It makes no sense.
Tendulkar passed 50,000 career runs in the win over T&T. But he didn't top score, which is all we are interested in. He'll be well-backed in his swansong but his form is poor. He has no half-centuries in his last 10 innings and the 35 in the semi was the first time he'd got past 15 in the tournament. Smith, who did do the biz, is a much wiser bet. Dinesh Karthik has got a decent record against the Royals, too, top scoring in an IPL meeting this year.
Watson batted at No 5 against Chennai and he found some much-needed runs. That gives punters an option with Hodge missing as Watson could feel less pressure tucked away. Ajinkya Rahane, who was brilliant against CSK, has an unbeaten 68 to his credit when the sides last met.