They go into tonight’s game having registered two resounding victories over Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in their two previous fixtures, and should be high on confidence.
Daredevils, on the other hand, have not been consistent enough throughout this season, struggling to string three victories together so far in this campaign. They, however, would be keen to get back to winning ways after losing their last game against the Royals at the Brabourne Stadium, which marked the 500th game in IPL history.
The stakes for tonight’s game are sure to be high, as both these teams are locked on 8 points after 9 games and a win here would see one of them move upwards on the IPL table by the end of today.
But which team is more equipped to outsmart the other? Is there scope for complacency in the hosts’ camp? Can J-P Duminy weave his magic with the bat against Mumbai once again? Read on… to get answers to those puzzles.
Rohit Sharma’s men have improved as a unit over the last five games, and the team management has to be credited for the return to form of their side.
Ricky Ponting and company have made it a point to stick with the same playing XI for 60% of their last five fixtures, and that trust has brought the very best out of the likes of Vinay Kumar, Jagadeesha Suchith and Parthiv Patel – who were the primary non-performers in the team not so long ago.
Mumbai’s opening pair of Parthiv and Lendl Simmons, in particular, has got going as the season has progressed, putting up partnerships of over 30 runs at the top of the innings in five consecutive games.
With Parthiv and Simmons rendering a platform for the middle and lower-middle order to throw the kitchen sink during the latter stages of the innings, the Indians have been able to post totals in excess of 170 on three occasions in their last five games.
|Simmons continues to hold Mumbai’s batting together|
They also have been fortunate to have got to bat first during their recent games, either after winning the toss and electing to do so or being put in by the opposing captain, and such a pattern has worked out nicely for them.
While the openers have found form lately, the engine room of their batting lineup, shouldered by Unmukt Chand, Rohit and Kieron Pollard, hasn’t come to the party in recent games.
Ambati Rayudu, though, played an outstanding knock of 53(27) against the Royals, and the Hyderabadi batsman looks a confident player after that match-winning innings not so long ago.
Mumbai, in terms of how they could construct their batting innings, will look to be cautious upfront and have wickets for the second half of the innings. That tactic has worked for them recently, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t stick to it.
Coming to their bowling, Lasith Malinga’s return to form with the ball has given his side a major boost. The unorthodox Sri Lankan quickie has averaged 1.8 wickets per game over the last five matches, and also become more economical after getting a bit of tapping during the earlier phases of this ongoing season.
Mitchell McClenaghan has done a terrific job for MI with the new ball, picking wickets and also bowling economically.
He, like Malinga, has taken 9 wickets in the 5 games he has played in the tournament so far. The New Zealand seamer was instrumental to his side defending totals of 157 and 187 against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Royals, respectively, as McClenaghan picked up 3-wicket hauls in both those games.
Harbhajan Singh has bowled well, though his wickets’ column has dried up in recent games. The Turbanator has been well assisted by Suchith, who has done a good job while bowling inside the mandatory powerplay and in tying down the likes of David Miller the other day against the Kings XI.
Vinay has bowled economically in recent games and needs to carry on in that mould, as the season reaches its business end. Rohit also has to be credited for the way he has utilized the bowlers, and restricting Mumbai’s opponents from running away with the game at any stage during their innings’.
Going into tonight’s game, MI cannot afford to slip up, with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) awaiting them in a couple of days time. Getting to 10 points today would mean that they get themselves closer to the current top four and enhance their chances of making it to the last four even more.
They, in a game of this magnitude, cannot afford to be complacent and got to continue doing the same things that have paid dividends lately.
MI’s weak link has still got to be their bowling; looking beyond the trio of Malinga, McClenaghan and Harbhajan, there is still a bit of uncertainty over Vinay and Suchith’s ability to deliver when the pressure cooker is on but, as long as the batting comes good, Mumbai will be in with a shout tonight and in the games to follow.
Tonight’s visitors have been striving for consistency until this point of their campaign, but have yet to manage it.
Looking at the playing XI they have put out game after game, you would think that they have a wonderful balance to their lineup, but the big guns in the batting department, barring Duminy, haven’t delivered and that aspect has been the major drawback of their season so far.
Someone like Yuvraj Singh, who you expect to come good in this format of the game, has struggled, reason for which has also got to be with the surface at the Feroz Shah Kotla. But the southpaw’s tally of 146 runs from 8 innings simply does not reflect the caliber of personnel we are talking about.
With the likes of Yuvraj and Angelo Mathews not making significant contributions with the bat in the middle order, the top three of Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer and Duminy himself, have had to shoulder the responsibility of the entire batting lineup.
Iyer and Duminy, in particular, have done a fantastic job, scoring 290 and 276 runs, respectively, and are up there amongst the top 10 run-scorers so far in the tournament. Agarwal, with 213 runs to his name in 8 innings, has done a good job opening the batting with Iyer.
Albie Morkel did so well for his side in their very first game against Super Kings, who only narrowly won that game after the all-rounder’s inspired effort of 73 (55) with the bat. But the South African has not got a look in after that game, which is outrageous really.
Yes, they have persevered with Mathews and been hoping that the Sri Lankan comes good. But despite not making a single half-century in 7 innings so far, he has simply been struck with, and it seems like Delhi have become oblivious to Morkel.
In order for them to progress in the tournament, their batting has to come good sooner than later. Saurabh Tiwary played a good innings of 28 (14) against the Royals a couple of days back, and Delhi would be hoping that he continues from he left off last Sunday.
Looking ahead to their bowling attack, Zaheer Khan announced his arrival in grandiose fashion by picking 2/17 from his 4 overs in his very first game of the season against KXIP.
Zaheer will relish bowling at the Wankhede, which is his home ground and where he plays for Mumbai Ranji team, and it will be one of the aspects to look forward to, as far as today’s clash between Mumbai and Delhi is concerned.
Nathan Coulter-Nile has been the leader of Daredevils’ bowling attack, having played all their games this season and averaging 1 wicket per game in 9 outings so far.
In the spin department, Imran Tahir and Amit Mishra have played 8 and 9 games, respectively, so far this season and haven’t been bad at all.
The South African leg-spinner, in fact, is the fifth highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets so far and he has been superbly backed up by Mishra picking 7 wickets at an economy rate of less than 8 runs-per-over.
Tahir missed his side’s last game and made way for Gurinder Sandhu, the New South Wales speedster, but don’t be surprised if the 36-year old comes back to the playing XI for tonight’s game.
Going into today’s game against MI, Delhi will bank on their bowling to keep Mumbai batsmen to a score of not more than 150.
Therefore, today’s tussle will, in all probability, be about Delhi’s bowling against the hosts’ batting lineup, and whichever side performs to its strengths should come out on top.
Mumbai, on current form, will start as favorites for this game. But the beauty of the T20 format is such that the underdog is always capable of springing a surprise.
This, as aforementioned, is a massive contest in determining which of these two sides enhances its chances of making it to the last four and that pressure will surely be evident on both Mumbai and Delhi.