Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Kane Williamson (centre) is all ears after a training session ahead of their IPL match against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
An underwhelming Delhi Capitals (DC) will look to bounce back from the disappointment of three losses in a row and book a play-off berth with a victory over the current table-toppers Mumbai Indians (MI) in Saturday’s Indian Premier League (IPL) double-header.
Having started their IPL campaign in style with a series of victories, the recent setback in the last three games seems to have dented Delhi’s confidence.
From being the tournament’s pace-setters and among the serious contenders for the title, they have been reduced to a beatable team now fighting for survival.
Though they are still in the top three, a single defeat can seriously dent their hopes of reaching the knockouts. With five teams fighting for three spots, the race for the play-offs has heated up.
By virtue of Chennai’s victory over Kolkata, Mumbai have already moved into the knockouts, which leaves only three places up for grabs.
Delhi’s series of dismal performances has left the play-offs race ajar, if not wide open. The picture is still not clear as the teams from the bottom end of table have clawed their way towards the top. Delhi will have to pull up their socks and get their act together if they are to put their stuttering campaign back on track.
Their biggest problem has been their opening partnership. They have not been able to get the opening combination right. Prithivi Shaw scored just a run in three innings, including two ducks. Ajinkya Rahane, who was promoted to the top, also failed to open his account against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).
When Rahane got some runs on the board, Shikhar Dhawan failed to get off the mark against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Dhawan had earlier scored two back-to-back centuries, but Delhi could win only one of those matches, as the rest of their batsmen failed to deliver.
Moreover, their fearsome bowling attack seems to be running out of steam. The combo of a lethal Kagiso Rabada and a ferocious Anrich Nortje have not been able to intimidate the batters with short-pitched deliveries zooming past their ears, like before.
Rabada conceded a whopping 54 runs in four overs and went wicket-less against Hyderabad that will not augur well for Ricky Ponting’s side.
Delhi will have to get their act together and put up a collective effort instead of just banking on individual performances to maintain their stranglehold at the top and keep their hopes of a top-two finish alive.
On the other hand Mumbai will look to keep their winning momentum going. They have been absolutely ruthless and look invincible even without Rohit Sharma, and in this match might try out some bench warmers.
Their top order looks in great form while their batsmen like Hardik Pandya and stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard are quite capable of putting rival bowlers to the sword at the death. Mumbai’s batting at the top looks invincible at the moment.
Their pace trio of James Pattinson, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult can rip through any batting line-up on any given day.
Meanwhile, in the other match of the double-header, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) will look to book their berth with an outright victory over struggling Hyderabad, who are battling to keep their hopes alive in every match.
Bangalore are in the second spot and need just one win to make it to the play-offs. In the same manner that Mumbai qualified, even results of the other matches could propel them to the next round without them having to do anything. It is almost improbable that they will not make it but for them it is a fight to the finish among the top two teams as the tournament is being played in the Round Robin format.
Hyderabad have a bleak chance but as of now cannot be written off mathematically. Despite winning against RCB, SRH will have to wait for the results of other matches.
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