The recent form of Delhi Daredevils and Mumbai Indians suggests that the clash between the two IPL heavyweights on Friday will be more than just another round-robin tie. While the former has emerged as a formidable unit in this edition of the tournament, the latter has just about managed to scrape through so far.
Delhi are sitting top of the table and are coming into this match after a resounding eight-wicket win over Pune Warriors India. Their batting and bowling are clicking simultaneously, and it would be hard to deny the fact that the arrival of their 'big ticket' players – Kevin Pietersen, Mahela Jayawardene and Ross Taylor – has given Delhi a big boost. While Pietersen, coming at No. 3, has enthused self-belief in the side with his big-hitting, Jayawardene opening the batting with skipper Virender Sehwag has proved ideal for the team's fortunes. Although New Zealand skipper Taylor has had quiet four matches, one would expect him to join the big-hitting bandwagon sooner rather than later. And the Delhi think-tank must be credited for playing their best batsmen at the top, which has earned them rich dividends.
Just like their batting, their bowling too is dependent heavily on the prowess of their foreign recruit Morne Morkel. The South African speedster has troubled all the batsmen in the league so far, picking up 16 wickets and wearing the Purple Cap as a result. And although there are no major contributors apart from Morkel, as far as taking wickets is concerned, Umesh Yadav and Shahbaz Nadeem have supported their South African spearhead well. And the news of Varun Aaron also being fit for the rest of the event will add an extra spark to the Delhi firepower. Aaron's return after a long injury layoff will also force Yadav to put in extra effort. But it's hard to see the hosts making any changes to the side that beat Pune in an away tie.
Mumbai, on the other hand, will enter Friday's contest after beating Kings XI Punjab in a nervy last-over battle. Some audacious batting at the end by Ambati Rayudu and Robin Peterson and some ordinary bowling by Piyush Chawla allowed Mumbai to get the better of a side that had beaten them in the first leg of this season. Mumbai’s batting, although strengthened with the arrival of Sachin Tendulkar, still hasn't performed on the expected lines. Though Rohit Sharma has played two match-winning innings – his 73 not out against Deccan Chargers and 50 against Punjab – the visitors will want their No. 3 batsman to do that on a consistent basis. Kieron Pollard too has been patchy so far this season. In fact, he has contributed more with the ball than bat, taking 11 wickets for the team.
Mumbai's bowling has been looking thin in the absence of Lasith Malinga, who is nursing a back injury. The team will also want Munaf Patel to do the talking with his bowling rather than swearing at his opponents. The medium-pacer went for 44 in his four-over spell against Punjab. And if Harbhajan Singh was not leading the side, he might have found it difficult to maintain his place in the playing eleven. The offspinner has shockingly taken just one wicket in seven matches so far.
Pragyan Ojha may once again find himself out of the line-up as his replacement, left-armer Peterson, can also contribute with the bat lower down the order. RP Singh is bound to get another game after his 1 for 27 in the last game. It also remains to be seen if the team management gives the Australian paceman Clint McKay another chance. But since the wicket at the Feroz Shah Kotla yielded plenty of runs in the last game, Mumbai may want to pack their line-up with players who can contribute both with the bat and ball.
Delhi Daredevils: 1 Mahela Jayawardene, 2 Virender Sehwag (capt), 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Naman Ojha, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Yogesh Nagar, 8 Morne Morkel, 9 Umesh Yadav, 10 Shahbaz Nadeem, 11 Pawan Negi
Mumbai Indians: 1 James Franklin, 2 Sachin 3 Tendulkar, 4 Rohit Sharma, 5 Kieron Pollard, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Ambati Rayudu, 7 Harbhajan Singh (capt), 8 Robin Peterson, 9 RP Singh, 10 Munaf Patel, 11 Clint McKay