Delhi Daredevils v/s Mumbai Indians
Ferozshah Kotla, Delhi
Head-to-Head Record in IPL: Delhi 4-5 Mumbai
Head ya Tail, Pyaar Mohabbat dil ka khel
After a right mauling at Wankhede, which looks more Away than Home to the Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar and Co. will be looking to reverse the trend at the Capital. After succumbing to Marsh, this team needs to pull their socks up and prove that they’re better than the current position (7th) they’re placed at. They started as favorites, but with Sachin’s finger, they wilted under the pressure and now face a struggle for survival while fellow favorites like Bangalore and Chennai find their feet.
Meanwhile, the Daredevils continue their Sehwagisque march to the top. Even when things go wrong- with Jayawardena being completely out of runs- this team finds ways of making molehills out of mountains, especially while chasing moderate scores. Clearly, there is no better team in the Indian Premier League right now, and that is saying a LOT after a disastrous 2011 campaign. A team that couldn’t get Irfan Pathan to target leg stump a year ago has Morne Morkel bowling from an ultimate vertical limit right now, and that is the beauty of this tournament. A Wooden Spoon often leads to legendary things the coming year- ask the Deccan Chargers. (2008 to 2009)
With Sehwag in Peitersonisque form and Morkel in Steynisque form, the Daredevils look like the team to beat this year. Sweet revenge, indeed, after a year that had them gleefully jump to the bottom of the league with a clueless captain and zero team balance. What’s more, Sehwag has unearthed the new Rahul Sharma of IPL 2012- the unassuming left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. The youngster has bowled the first over, the second over, the third over and every other over in the batting Powerplay, and is still going at less than 6 an over, with an average of 15 runs per wicket. Classy stuff, really, in a country that preys on innocent young off-spinners. Old off-spinners, too, for that matter.
With only Mahela yet to figure amongst the runs, the future looks extremely bright for a team that is still waiting for in-form David Warner to join them. Ross Taylor leads the field to non-Delhi brilliance, and players like Dilshan, AB, Vettori are missed no more, finally. The team has been rebuilt, and it took two embarrassing years to do so. Mumbai Indians could take a leaf or two out of this book, given enough patience and the hunger to win this league.
Playing at home after a few games on the road, Virender Sehwag might just grin at Sachin Tendulkar a few days after the latter’s 39th Birthday, and make him actually feel his age.
Player to watch out for: Mahela Jayawardena
The classy Sri-Lankan was unlucky to have his innings cut short against Pune, after a mix-up with runner-wrecker Sehwag. He looked good to go, after a few failures, and God save Mumbai if he continues his brief touch too. As if Peiterson, Morkel and Sehwag weren’t enough.
My Favorite Country
3 wins out of 6. That wasn’t exactly the record the Ambanis were looking for after selecting yet another unbeatable team on paper. But things began to go downhill after the first Levi-inspired boost, and after 13 partners over four years, Sachin Tendulkar is yet to find a suitable match at the top of the order. The stability he lends to the ailing line-up is much welcome, but his scratchy 23 against Punjab clearly suggests that he might take a while to get back into the dominating mindset after a few weeks on the sidelines.
Rohit Sharma has returned to his flattering-to-deceive mode, and Rayadu is yet to find any sort of form. Malinga and Tendulkar have played only one game together this year, the first match against Chennai that they won, and Malinga’s return looks highly unlikely any time soon. With mediocre Indian bowlers like RP Singh and Pragyan Ojha to guide their team through the slog overs, things look extremely bleak for this promising side.
Player to watch out for: Rohit Sharma
The 24 year old Mumbaikar, now in his fifth year of ‘promise’, is yet to fire after an electrifying chase against Deccan Chargers. One feels he is concentrating way too much on trying to pace an innings and be a finisher when all he needs to do is be his 21 year old Deccan Charger self- a boy who took the world by storm in IPL 2009.
Delhi Daredevils look way too strong for this Mumbai side, home or away. Even a Tendulkar spell of brilliance may not be enough, and the North Indians may finally be able to boast of a ‘double’ after two barren years against Mumbai.