Mumbai Indians v/s Delhi Daredevils
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Head to head IPL record: Mumbai 5-3 Delhi
Lift Kara De
If there was ever a domestic rivalry that half-matches the India-Pakistan intensity and the quality of an Australia-England test series, this is it.
Mumbai wouldn’t mind not even reaching the knockouts, but they MUST have bragging rights over eternal enemies Delhi. The same with Delhi- especially after a pathetically inadequate wooden spoon 2011 season, which managed to shut up most cocktail-party and farmhouse cricket conversations for a while. Mumbai are unbeaten in two years against the Daredevils- with 4 consecutive wins.
The last game between these two venomous teams in May 2011 bore a totally different picture from the form-guide right now. Morkel was shredded to pieces by Rayadu and Sharma, and the famed top order of Delhi made a grand total of 5 runs combined between them. The game was over two overs into the 179-run chase, with Malinga and Harbhajan swatting aside Sehwag and Warner within an over. Mumbai was on a roll once again, and Delhi were further relegated to the depths of IPL hell.
But, 2012 is a different year. Mumbai, still in top form at the top of the table, are still looking for some sort of consistency without batting stalwart Tendulkar at the top- and are struggling to chase down moderate scores. Batting first would be a welcome change for Harbhajan and Co., as it showed in the game against the Royals where Pollard blasted his way to glory with bat and ball.
The Daredevils are off to a decent start without most of their foreign players in the squad- 2 wins in 3 games- thanks in large doses to the rejuvenated Morkel, who seems to savour sub-continental pitches much more than other overseas seamers.
An impressive batting finish against the Royals will have calmed down a few flutters, but even Harbhajan Singh is aware of the fact that an onslaught like that will never come off every game. Often, Mumbai fail to finish on a high, and are left defending paltry totals- and thanks to their world-class bowling attack, they pull it off. Defending high totals seems to be a problem though, with Owias Shah almost pulling off a heist until that man Malinga dislodged 2.5 of his 3 stumps. The good news for this team is that Sachin Tendulkar is well on his way to recovery, and might just play this all-important North-South derby battle.
Switch me on
Munaf Patel, the purple cap holder after just 3 games, is in enviable form- with 10 big wickets to his name already. His IPL form may just get him back in favour in the ODI scheme of things, and combined with Malinga and Pollard (who are incidentally second and third in the list right now), life is made a lot easier for the misfiring Levi and Rayadu.
Player to watch out for: Rohit Sharma
His trademark lofted cover drives often stun not only the opposition but even him, and he falls after a glorious start. His innings against Rajasthan was one of the most eye-catching cameos in recent times- and slowly, he is getting his confidence back. Also, he seems to be getting more of an opportunity by Captain Harbhajan Singh and has been promoted to number 3- in view of his impending Test debut, a strategy that Tendulkar consistently failed to understand last year.
Their last crushing win against Chennai was a telling message to the rest of the teams. The manner in which new recruits Peiterson and Jayawardena guided them home after Morkel ran through the top order once again- signified the fact that this Daredevil team finally seems to have gotten its balance right. After foolishly selling off all their top players last season, Sehwag and Co. are only waiting for Warner to join them- after which they will be as tough to beat as Mumbai- especially with Jaya and KP in the form of their lives.
Their game against Mumbai will be a grudge match- after ending up losing to them twice last year. Sehwag, still in explosively inconsistent form, will be looking to set the records straight- and announce the return of his team back to the top. They are definitely the team to beat this year, and this will be a good match between two of the best line-ups in IPL 2012.
Player to watch out for: Kevin Peiterson
His last four innings have yielded more than 300 runs at a very high strike rate, and he seems to have retained that swagger missing from most of the miserable English Summer. He is back in prime form, and looks one of the most destructive limited overs batsmen in the world right now. Along with the silken Jaya, it is difficult to imagine Delhi scoring any less than 170 every game.
Both teams are playing after a relatively long break of 4 days, and will come out all guns blazing. This time, though, it looks like Delhi might come out on top- whether or not Sachin is back in the team.