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ISL Final: Nerijus Valskis or Roy Krishna - who will have the last laugh?

9:47 AM GMT+4 12/03/2020
Valskis KrishnA
ATK and Chennaiyin have a fantastic striker each in their team...

When ATK and Chennaiyin face off in the final of the 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday, it will also be a contest between two of the campaign's most prolific goal-getters. 

Fijian forward Roy Krishna has taken the league by storm, scoring 15 goals from 20 appearances. Competing with the ATK striker and Kerala Blasters striker Bartholomew Ogbeche (15 goals) is Chennaiyin's goal machine Nerijus Valskis, who has 14 goals to his name from 19 appearances. It is a three-horse race for the Golden Boot and two of them have a match to play. 

Both Krishna and Valskis, who are playing their first-ever season in Indian football, have contributed heavily towards the success of their respective teams this season. Krishna was joined by former Wellington Phoenix teammate David Williams and the duo was able to strike up an instant partnership in front of goal. Krishna opened his account in ATK's first game itself, against Kerala Blasters in the tournament opener. 

Williams supplemented Krishna's game but even when the Australian forward missed games due to injury, Krishna rarely looked off-colour. His quality on the ball often placed him a level above the rest of the 21 players on the field in games - that was the kind of output he delivered for ATK. 

Unlike Krishna, Valskis couldn't get going instantly. Under John Gregory, Chennaiyin struggled to perform well in the final third. There looked like a group of individuals trying to make an impact. But the trio of Valskis, Rafael Crivellaro and Andre Schembri started clicking a couple of months into the season. Owen Coyle, who replaced Gregory in December, was able to extract the best out of the foreign attackers and it was Valskis who stood out in front of goal. 

Valskis had to wait till November 25, when Chennaiyin beat Hyderabad 2-1 in their fifth match of the season, to score his first goal. Once the Lithuanian found his scoring boots, there was no stopping the striker. His goals helped Chennaiyin pick up one win after another and they slowly, from being in the bottom half of the table, the Machans got into the top four by the end of the league stage. 

While both strikers would opt to take a shot and score if they had a choice, they have showcased their vision and passing range as well. Krishna and Valskis have provided five and six assists respectively, once again hallmarking their importance to the teams.