Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Ask a Mumbaikar if he/she would ever like to live in Delhi, and instead of answering the question, he/she would stick you into a 6.43 PM Virar Fast with your wallet and phone in hand and hope to never find your body. Ask a Delhiite if they’d want to live in or even visit Mumbai, and they will lock you in a neon-lit Paharganj bar with money glued to your body.
Such is the rivalry between proud residents of these embattled Indian cities. They don’t like one another, and they’re secretly jealous of the strengths of their rival cities—Delhiites are jealous of the warmth, modesty, ambition and hospitality of Mumbaikars, while Mumbaikars envy the space, greenery, winter and food of Delhi. When their teams play, there’s no love to be lost either.
Over the years, Mumbai Indians have been the people’s champions. Delhi Daredevils have been the bumbling, mismanaged team that never seems to get going.
This time, the Daredevils lie above Mumbai Indians in the table. The Mumbai captain, Rohit Sharma, has now joined the last of a million Indian 20-somethings in a hurry to ‘settle down’—newly engaged, and hopefully, not distracted enough to forget that he must cross the score of 25 in order to be effective as a T20 batsman. He has recently fallen prey to the Uthappa syndrome, where a batsman thinks he has done enough after approaching the score of 30 at more than a run a ball. Uthappa has more than 44 thirties in his T20 career, and Rohit, who has 23 half centuries, is fast approaching that ultimate throw-it-away-when-set landmark. However, Malinga seems to have hit half his stride recently, thereby demoting Harbhajan Singh to the mantle of ‘third best bowler in the side’. At any given point, either Vinay Kumar or Mitchell M. bowls better than Bhajji, while their resurgence has coincided with the arrival of Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons as opening batters.
Ironically, the best batsman for the Delhi Daredevils this year has been the 20-year old Mumbai Ranji player Shreyas Iyer, who oozes the nonchalance of Sehwag and the timing of Rohit. Along with Duminy, he has kept his team in the hunt, though the inexplicable dropping of Tahir hasn’t helped their cause. They were destroyed by the Royals a few days ago, and will have to hit back and hope that Mumbai Indians rediscover their starter mojo—the phase where they can’t even buy a win, despite their owners’ never-ending fortune. Both these teams are fighting hard to climb up the middle-order traffic jam, effectively fighting for fourth spot after CSK, RR and KKR.
SRH, RCB, MI and DD are in a heated battle to see who chokes first, after KXIP—the fairytale runners-up of last season—made sure they would never choke, by already being eliminated early in the tournament without putting up much of a fight.
The Wankhede will pull Mumbai across the time, but not before a few scares. Zaheer Khan will return a rejuvenated bowler for DD, and make life difficult for his former team.