Many small battles are expected to unfold when the season’s two most consistent teams — Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals — cross swords in a clash of equals in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.
Be it a potent top-order, a strong middle-order or a lethal bowling attack, there is hardly anything that separates the two sides.
If at all one team has a slight upper hand in any department, it’s the experience in Mumbai Indians’ pace bowling arsenal. Both Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, with years of experience behind them, could be the difference in the most sought-after contest of this edition.
It means that Shikhar Dhawan will have to strive harder to give the Capitals a solid start. The left-handed batsman has got starts in the last few games but needs a bigger innings under his belt and if it comes in a big contest, Capitals will have gained a lot.
In a way, young Prithvi Shaw and the in-form Rishabh Pant will face their first stiff test when they face Bumrah and Boult, who can trouble any batsman with their pace and accuracy.
The good news for Capitals is Shimron Hetmyer getting his touch back with the innings against Rajasthan Royals on Friday. He seemed to be the only weak link in Capitals’ ranks but his six-laden knock against Royals has removed that worry.
Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer has been very impressive so far both as a batsman and as the leader of the pack. It will be interesting to see how he uses his resources against his in-form counterpart Rohit Sharma and his smashing middle-order due of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.
They can change the complexion of the game within minutes and handling them will be the key. Krunal Pandya, too, is capable of conjuring up cameos that can turn things around for Mumbai Indians.
Iyer has the exciting South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortze to do the job in that department. The guile of Ravichandran Ashwin further adds sting to Capitals’ attack.
Axar Patel has nicely settled into the side after he replaced the injured Amit Mishra. His all-round ability is another plus for the Capitals.
At the big Abu Dhabi ground, a score in the vicinity of 170 is normally par for any other side in the IPL, but for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, even 200 may not appear safe.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Shimron Hetmyer, Kagiso Rabada, Ajinkya Rahane, Amit Mishra, Rishabh Pant (wk), Ishant Sharma, Axar Patel, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Daniel Sams, Mohit Sharma, Anrich Nortje, Alex Carey (wk), Avesh Khan, Tushar Deshpande, Harshal Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Lalit Yadav.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Pattison, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prince Balwant Rai, Quinton De Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult.
Match starts at 7.30 PM IST.