By Kushan Sarkar
New Delhi: Apr 26, 2012
A thrilling victory against Kings XI Punjab in Mohali must have provided the much-needed boost to Mumbai Indians but hosts Delhi Daredevils still remain favourites when the two teams square off in a return-leg IPL match on Friday.
With tournament reaching mid-way stage, Virender Sehwag's men have looked most compact among the nine sides in the fray and the Daredevils will certainly like to consolidate their position as table toppers.
The last time the two teams locked horns at the Wankhede Stadium, Delhi pacers had steamrolled over the 'Men in Blue' but that was a match that didn't feature Sachin Tendulkar.
Both teams had contrasting victories in their previous matches.
While Daredevils romped home courtesy a typical Sehwag innings against Pune Warriors, Mumbai Indians had to depend on Robin Peterson's innovations and Piyush Chawla's profligacy to get their campaign back on track.
Even as Tendulkar's form in the two matches, since his comeback from finger injury, has been reassuring, Mumbai Indians' bowling is still a cause of worry with no Lasith Malinga to bowl those menacing toe-crushers at the death.
Skipper Harbhajan Singh's extended 'wicket-drought' has also affected the team very badly. The veteran of 98 Tests and 229 ODIs has managed only one wicket in seven games so far.
Worse, Harbhajan has been leaking runs regularly and has not contributed well with the bat.
The Daredevils, on the other hand, have been pretty consistent throughout.
The Daredevils bowlers have done a commendable job save Pune Warriors game when they were taken apart. And with Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen in good form, it would take a special effort from MI to upset the Daredevils applecart.
Among bowlers, Morne Morkel has proved to be an able leader with 16 wickets, while other pacers in Irfan Pathan and Umesh Yadav have bowled well in patches. The revelation, however, has been their young left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who has had a brilliant tournament so far.
An economy rate of less than six in seven matches is something any bowler would be proud of. Young Delhi lad Pawan Negi also bowled with a lot of heart in their away game against Pune Warriors.
While the bowling attack looks pretty sorted, there is one area that Sehwag might ponder upon. His team has never batted first in the seven matches. The five matches that they have won have been primarily based on good starts by the top-order.
It is still to be seen as to how the middle-order perform under pressure. Ross Taylor hasn't yet got a decent hit while Mahela Jayawardene is also due for a big score.
The likes of Naman Ojha, Yogesh Nagar would also want to prove that they can win matches singlehandedly without the help of successful stars.
In all, an exciting contest is on cards.
DD (probable): Virender Sehwag (c), Naman Ojha(c), Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene, Ross Taylor, Irfan Pathan, Yogesh Nagar, Morne Morkel, P Negi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Umesh Yadav
MI (probable): Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Raydu, Kieron Pollard, Dinesh Kathik (wk), James Franklin, Harbhajan Singh (c), Clint McKay, Robin Peterson, Munaf Patel, Rudra Pratap Singh
Time: (20:00 local | 14:30 GMT)