Stage set for high-voltage finale

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Rajastan Royals are clear favourites against Chennai Super Kings for Sunday's high-voltage finaleBangalore: Rajastan Royals, who were widely considered as minnows of the tournament before the start of IPL 2008, are clear favourites against Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings for Sunday's high-voltage final at the DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai, despite absence of their star opening batsman Graeme Smith, who was ruled out due to a harmstring injury.

As most unconventional and influential leaders of the IPL lock horns, Shane Warne, Rajastan Royal's skipper, believes that his balanced attack can exploit the unpredictable track of the DY Patil stadium. "The wicket at the DY Patil has helped seamers more. It's a bit up and down. We have a well-balanced attack to do well there," said Warne at the pre-match press conference.

"We haven't got any absolute superstars or big names on our side. But we are all at the same level, and all are treated exactly the same," said Warne.

Warne, who converted a bunch of unestablished young Indians and a few international players to the strongest team of IPL, will not be perturbed by the absence of Smith and Royals team--whose owners spent only less than two-and-a-half times Dhoni's price to purchase the entire team--know that the title win would be the best tribute for their skipper's contributions. The Jaipur team's previous victories against the Chennai side in the league round may also give some psychological advantage to Warne's

On the other hand, a win for Dhoni would justify his USD 1.5 million price tag. Chennai Super Kings, who thrashed mighty Kings XI Punjab yesterday, cannot be written off easily and their victory in the semi-finals is big confidence booster. But Dhoni knows that past failures and wins doesn't count for much in the ultra-abridged version of cricket.

"You can't really go by what you have done in the series or the tournaments or in the past games. Its always a fresh start beacuse you are playing on different wickets, different conditions, so you always have to start from scratch. And it is very important, whether you are bowling first or batting first, you got to get a good start and then look to capitalise on that," said Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Dhoni, though he feels the pressure ahead of the final, said that he and his boys are up for the challenge. "I would be lying if I say I am not feeling the pressure, but we are ready for it." The entire world is ready now to vitness the title clash; but the million dollar question is can Dhoni and his men take the Royals to lift the first ever Indian Premier League trophy?

With inputs from Agencies

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