Delhi Capitals' players share a lighter moments during a practice session. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Holders Mumbai Indians (MI) will look to exorcise the demons of the mauling against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and punch a ticket for the final with a victory over Delhi Capitals (DC) in the first qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Thursday.
By the virtue of finishing in the top two, both Delhi and Mumbai will face off in the first qualifier. They have the cushion of being in the contention for the final despite losing in the first qualifier.
The tournament is being played in the Round Robin format and the loser of the first qualifier will meet the winner of the eliminator in the second qualifier for a berth in the final.
While the winner of the first qualifier will directly move into the final without having to face the unwanted jitters of going through a gruelling eliminators. The loser of the eliminator will make an exit.
In their last outing Mumbai were hammered by Hyderabad by ten wickets. They fielded a depleted side, resting Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya but a ten-wicket thrashing can be a wake-up call in any circumstances ahead of the crucial clash.
A fit-again Rohit Sharma returned to the fold but failed to fire and was out for just four runs. A toothless bowling attack failed to take a single wicket.
Mumbai will go into the match with a psychological advantage, having beaten Delhi by nine wickets in their last meeting.
Quinton de Kock with 443 runs from 14 games is leading their star-studded batting line-up. De Kock, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are in sublime touch and would look to continue with it.
The comeback of Rohit will further lift the morale of the side but the skipper needs to get in the groove as early as possible. Kieron Pollard, Hardik and Krunal Pandya can play big shots toward the end to propel the score to a big total.
Meanwhile, Boult and Bumrah, who have picked up 23 and 20 wickets respectively, will look to rip through the inconsistent Delhi’s batting line-up. Rahul Chahar, Pollard and Krunal have also been impressive, reducing the pressure from the pace duo.
Delhi, who put up stellar performance in the first-half of the tournament, seemed to be struggling in the last few matches. They lost four matches on a trot that had put their qualification in peril albeit briefly.
Their batting has been inconsistent throughout the IPL. Of late they are struggling with the opening partnership. They will have to pull up their socks against a lethal bowling attack of Mumbai.
Opener Prithvi Shaw was dropped after scoring one run in three innings with two golden ducks. After his return to the fold, his scores have been 9, 10 and 7 in the last three innings.
Shikhar Dhawan, too after scoring two back-to-back centuries, witnessed a drastic fall in form. His has scored 60 runs in four innings including scores of 54, 0, 0, 6.
In the middle-order Rishab Pant has failed to deliver since returning from an injury. Shreyas Iyer will have to shoulder the burden and set the tone for a big total.
However, Delhi’s strength has been their bowling. The South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje has been spearheading the bowling charge quite effectively.
Rabada is the highest wicket-taker with 25 scalps in 14 games while Nortje picked up 19 from 13 matches to play a vital role in Delhi’s run-up to the qualifiers. They are complemented by the spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin. Having lost their sublime touch in the middle, both Rabada and Nortje seem to have regained the form. That is a good news.
Prithvi hit nine boundaries and one six during his stint at the crease. He was well supported by Shikhar Dhawan (33).
It was an abject surrender by KKR as they never looked in contention in their chase and could manage to muster only 146/9.
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