x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dhoni plays down subplot with the Little Master

One day after celebrating his 37th birthday, Sachin Tendulkar will be looking to put the icing on the cake in the IPL final against Chennai Super Kings tonight.

One day after celebrating his 37th birthday, Sachin Tendulkar will be looking to put the icing on the cake in the IPL final against Chennai Super Kings tonight. The curtain will come down on the 45-day, high-octane and lately controversial carnival of cricket tonight at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. For the self-obsessed bosses of the league, the finale could not have followed a better script, with Tendulkar, the darling of Indian cricket fans, facing off against MS Dhoni, the India captain.

However, Dhoni, who is also captain of the Super Kings, said the final is not "MSD v SRT", as some are billing it. "That ends with the toss," he said in a TV interview. "That is the only time we [Tendulkar and himself] will be directly competing against each other. After that, it's a team sport at the end of the day. "They have a very good side, good bowlers and very good domestic batsmen in the middle order. They have some really good finishers, or sloggers who can score really quick. It will be a difficult challenge for us, but at the end of the day we have reached the final and we will just look to make it tough for the opposition."

That statement, however, failed to mask Dhoni's ambition to win the title after they lost in the final to Rajasthan Royals in the first IPL season. "Throughout every season we have been struggling with something or the other," he said. "In the last three editions, if you would like to say what percentage we are playing at, I think we are just playing at 60 to 65 per cent of our potential. "We see the dressing room and the players we have got, I think if we can perform at 90 per cent we can really beat any side in the world, not just the sides in the IPL. But, at the end of the day, we have to do well on the field, it is not about percentage cricket."

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi, with agencies Mumbai Indians v Chennai Super Kings, 7pm on CricOne