Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
Mumbai Indians- Loss, Win,
Delhi Daredevils- Loss, Loss,
So far, there have been plenty of chokes, mega-chokes and moments that suggest that the team batting second will display South African genes throughout the league. Defending a score seems to have become the in-thing, with Royals and Mumbai defending their scores yesterday- after Sunrisers defended 125-odd the day before.
(Finalists 2010) Mumbai Indians, led by a relieved Ricky Ponting, will play their first home game after starting their campaign with two consecutive tough Away games (Bangalore, Chennai). The team is known more for its ability to win away from home, and haven’t fared very well on their home pitch at Wankhede over the years. After a close game at Bangalore that they had no business losing, they almost fell to the belligerence of Dhoni at Chennai after putting up a par total. If not for Pollard’s stunning catch at the deep midwicket boundary line, Mumbai Indians would have found themselves in the same position as their opponents on Tuesday- Delhi Daredevils, winless in two games.
Ironically, the reason Mumbai even managed to put up a decent total on the Chennai pitch is due to the failure of their top order- which ensured that Pollard came in before the 10th over for once, and he made most of the situation. Given an opportunity (rare, in Tendulkar’s era), Pollard has made a habit of pulling his average team out of the dumps, and it was no different on Super Saturday.
Routinely, the management would imagine that their team has played their two toughest game of the season already, and things will only get easier from here on. A home game against the Daredevils is perfect for them to find their winning combination, and go from strength to strength- later facing Pune on the weekend at home.
X-factor: Dinesh Karthik. Still looks the best batsman in a side full of ageing and young stars. The return of Lasith Malinga, though, will ease matters a bit.
There hasn’t been a season where this team has been just average. They have either been absolutely terrible or the strongest team in the league stages. 2012 was their best chance, one would imagine, with Morkel and KP firing on all cylinders- until Viru proved in the knockouts why he was never Indian captain. 2013 seems to be resembling 2011 already, where Delhi had finished rockbottom after losing all their top foreign players to Bangalore. This time, there is no KP, and their best bowler Morkel is yet to arrive. Hence, 2 losses in 2 games is not an entirely unreasonable start- but the manner in which they lost to the Royals suggests that there could be no way back for the Daredevils even when Sehwag enters the fray. Warner tried to play the role of Sehwag as well as KP, and single-handedly dragged them towards the target- until the batsmen around him choked and handed Kevin Cooper and his Royals team a famous victory- revenge for last year’s similar reverse choke where Rahane scored 98.
The famous Unmukt Chand looks all at sea against any genuine pace, and has not played one shot that suggests that he belongs to international cricket. College batsmen have fared better and looked more comfortable, and it only goes to show the weakness of Indian domestic cricket- where he recently slammed 2 hundreds for Delhi in an ODI tournament.
X-factor: Umesh Yadav. The lone world-class bowler in a lineup that desperately needs more options.
Prediction: After upsetting Chennai, Mumbai should sale through this one at home. It is also precisely why they won’t, and hence, Delhi could score their first win of the season.