In a clash between perhaps the two most impressive teams so far this Indian Premier League season, Mumbai Indians will take on Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1 at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.
Four-time winners Mumbai, the team to beat in the league stage, have seemingly lost a bit of their momentum after a 10-wicket defeat to Sunrisers Hyderabad on Tuesday.
Chasing their first title, Delhi Capitals roared back to form by thrashing Royal Challengers Bangalore by six wickets to grab the second spot, after four successive losses.
The biggest positive for Mumbai has been the return of skipper Rohit Sharma, who had missed four games to recover from a hamstring injury. The star opener, though, perished cheaply against SRH and needs to come good on the big day.
The defending champions boast an explosive batting line-up coupled with an equally lethal bowling attack, but the batters had an off day against SRH. Their bowlers too were taken to the task – a wake-up call before the crucial game.
Delhi’s middle-order has been sluggish and heavily dependent on one or two batters. Mumbai’s top-order has been firing on all-cylinders and young Ishan Kishan (428 runs) has been a revelation.
Quinton De Kock (443) would be keen to continue his sublime form while opening with Rohit. And so would Suryakumar Yadav (410 runs), who has played some scintillating knocks.
Known for their six-hitting prowess, Hardik Pandya (241), Kieron Pollard (259) and Krunal Pandya (95) have made impactful contributions in the tournament. Pollard’s six-hitting ability was on display again when he plundered four maximums against SRH. The trio could prove to be the difference.
Mumbai rested key bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (23 wickets) and Trent Boult (20 wickets) against SRH. Both have been lethal at front and at the death.
Spinners Rahul Chahar (15 wickets) and Krunal (five wickets) will need to forget the hammering they received from David Warner and Wriddhiman Saha before taking on DC.
On the other hand, Ajinkya Rahane (111 runs) is back among runs after scoring a match-winning 60 against RCB. Shikhar Dhawan (525) has been in blazing form, with two hundreds and three fifties, but will need support from others in a big game.
A major cause of concern is the form of two youngsters – opener Prithvi Shaw (228) and Rishabh Pant (282) – who haven’t lived up to their potential. As has been the case of Delhi’s key overseas players – West Indian Shimron Hetmyer (138 runs) and Marcus Stoinis (249 runs). Skipper Shreyas Iyer (421) will have to play the anchor’s role.
On the bowling front, the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada (25 wickets) and Anrich Nortje (19) has been exceptional. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have done well to suffocate the opposition teams.
Earlier in the league stage, Mumbai got the better of Delhi twice but Rohit conceded that it is history. “You keep doing well, I know you want to remember those performances, but it is always nice to forget what has happened and focus on the present,” said the MI skipper.
Nortje, Ashwin vs MI top order
Anrich Nortje and Ravichandran Ashwin have taken the new ball consistently for Delhi Capitals and applied great pressure on opponents with their consistency. But in the all-important clash against MI on Thursday, the duo will face a stern. Mumbai’s top order batsmen – Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav have all got runs this season and are proven match-winners. Delhi will be in trouble if they don’t get wickets with the new ball.
Bumrah, Boult vs DC top order
Similarly for the Capitals, their top order is crucial for them. Shikhar Dhawan has been in remarkable form, Ajinkya Rahane showed his class in the last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, and skipper Shreyas Iyer has immense potential too. MI have opened the bowling with Trent Boult, who has made several key contributions through the season, but the defending champions may be tempted to start with Jasprit Bumrah from the other end. The right-arm quick is the spearhead of the attack and can put his team on top with early strikes.
Rabada vs Pollard, Hardik
This has to be one of those most exciting match-ups in the IPL. Kagiso Rabada is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament. The South African has shown he’s a cut above the rest by using his pace, skill and accuracy to lead Delhi’s charge. But in Dubai on Thursday, he will be up against perhaps the most dangerous lower-order duo in the IPL. Rabada is usually reserved for the death overs and his clash with Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya has the makings of a blockbuster. Delhi will be at a huge advantage if Rabada comes out on top in this battle.
|Mat||MI wins||DC wins||MI win%||DC win%|
|MI vs DC||26||14||12||53.84||46.16|
MI's road to IPL 2020 playoffs
|MI vs CSK||19 Sep, Sat (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI lost by 5 wickets||0|
|KKR vs MI||23 Sep, Wed (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 49 runs||2|
|RCB vs MI||28 Sep, Mon (1930)||Dubai||MI lost in Super Over||2|
|KXIP vs MI||1 Oct, Thu (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 48 runs||4|
|MI vs SRH||4 Oct, Sun (1530)||Sharjah||MI won by 34 runs||6|
|MI vs RR||6 Oct, Tue (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 57 runs||8|
|MI vs DC||11 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 5 wickets||10|
|MI vs KKR||16 Oct, Fri (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 8 wickets||12|
|MI vs KXIP||18 Oct, Sun (1930)||Dubai||MI lost in Super Over||12|
|CSK vs MI||23 Oct, Fri (1930)||Sharjah||MI won by 10 wickets||14|
|RR vs MI||25 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI lost by 8 wickets||14|
|MI vs RCB||28 Oct, Wed (1930)||Abu Dhabi||MI won by 5 wickets||16|
|DC vs MI||31 Oct, Sat (1530)||Dubai||MI won by 9 wickets||18|
|SRH vs MI||3 Nov, Tue (1930)||Sharjah||MI lost by 10 wickets||18|
DC's road to IPL 2020 playoffs
|DC vs KXIP||20 Sep, Sun (1930)||Dubai||DC won Super Over after match was tied||2|
|CSK vs DC||25 Sep, Fri (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 44 runs||4|
|DC vs SRH||29 Sep, Tue (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 15 runs||4|
|DC vs KKR||3 Oct, Sat (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 18 runs||6|
|RCB vs DC||5 Oct, Mon (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 59 runs||8|
|RR vs DC||9 Oct, Fri (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 46 runs||10|
|MI vs DC||11 Oct, Sun (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 5 wickets||10|
|DC vs RR||14 Oct, Wed (1930)||Dubai||DC won by 13 runs||12|
|DC vs CSK||17 Oct, Sat (1930)||Sharjah||DC won by 5 wickets||14|
|KXIP vs DC||20 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||DC lost by 5 wickets||14|
|KKR vs DC||24 Oct, Sat (1530)||Abu Dhabi||DC lost by 59 runs||14|
|SRH vs DC||27 Oct, Tue (1930)||Dubai||DC lost by 88 runs||14|
|DC vs MI||31 Oct, Sat (1530)||Dubai||DC lost by 9 wickets||14|
|DC vs RCB||2 Nov, Mon (1930)||Abu Dhabi||DC won by 6 wickets||16|
|Rohit Sharma||Dhawal Kulkarni||Hardik Pandya||Ishan Kishan|
|Sherfane Rutherford||Jasprit Bumrah||Jayant Yadav||Quinton de Kock|
|Suryakumar Yadav||James Pattinson||Kieron Pollard||Aditya Tare|
|Anmolpreet Singh||Mitchell McClenaghan||Krunal Pandya|
|Chris Lynn||Rahul Chahar||Anukul Roy|
|Saurabh Tiwary||Trent Boult||Digvijay Deshmukh|
|Nathan Coulter-Nile||Prince Balwant Rai Singh|
|Shreyas Iyer||Ishant Sharma||Axar Patel||Rishabh Pant|
|Prithvi Shaw||Amit Mishra||Harshal Patel||Alex Carey|
|Shikhar Dhawan||Avesh Khan||R Ashwin|
|Ajinkya Rahane||Sandeep Lamichhane||Lalit Yadav|
|Shimron Hetmyer||Kagiso Rabada||Marcus Stoinis|
|Keemo Paul||Daniel Sams|
Match starts at 1930 IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network and Disney+Hotstar
(With PTI inputs)