The new Indian Premier League season continues on Sunday with a double header which begins at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai as the Delhi Capitals take on the Mumbai Indians in a match which will offer us a first look at two potential title contenders.
These two teams both missed out on the final last season and so getting to the big dance will be the minimum requirement for two sides who have done good work to their squads in the auction and who will be expected to feature prominently.
The Delhi Capitals topped the table last term but despite having two chances to make the final they couldn’t get there and what was a decent season to start with ended in a huge disappointment, one which they will look to overcome here. The Capitals are getting a bit of a reputation for being a good team in the first phase of a season but then struggling in the second part of it and you wonder if that is becoming a mental thing as far as they are concerned.
Delhi underwent some big changes to their squad in the off season. To let someone like Shikhar Dhawan leave is a big call while Kagiso Rabada is another big name who has left the Capitals. They have brought in some good Indian bowlers which will allow them to pack their side with overseas batters and all-rounders which will be key, although a number of their overseas players are unavailable for this match due to international commitments.
The Mumbai Indians missed out on the playoffs completely last season when they were condemned to fifth place on net run rate. This is a team who were defending the title that season so to not make the business end of the campaign will have disappointed them. They have the obvious advantage of playing some matches at home this season which no other team will have but that doesn’t help them here so they will need to use their own motivation in this match.
One thing Mumbai will have to overcome here is this ridiculous opening game record they have. They haven’t won their first match in an IPL season since 2012 and although we are used to them doing their best work at the end of the campaign, it would make life a lot easier for themselves if they can come to the party early on. They are having to blood a few new players in here though so perhaps their slow start will continue.
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With so many overseas players unavailable the Delhi Capitals are going to need their wildcard to come good. That is Rishabh Pant who is capable of taking any bowling attack to the cleaners when he is in the mood. He needs to be in the mood here.
Tim David has the chance to launch a name for himself with the Mumbai Indians here. At some point they are going to move on from Kieron Pollard and it could be that the Singapore international will be his long-term replacement. Firing here will do his chances no harm.
I get that the Delhi Capitals are missing some players which will make them a lot stronger later in the season but I like their Indian contingent of bowlers and I see no reason why they can’t be competitive based on the attack that they can offer here. The batting will get stronger as we go along but Tim Seifert and Rovman Powell bring good quality to the batting unit to go with the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Rishabh Pant.
This trend of Mumbai Indians starting a season slowly and them coming alive is no fluke now. It has been going on long enough that they clearly ease their way into a campaign. Mahela Jayawardena is their coach and he coached the Southern Brave in The Hundred and they did the same thing so I wonder if the Capitals are overpriced here. We saw on Saturday that the experienced Chennai players needed the run and if that is the case with Mumbai, as it usually is, then Delhi could easily open up with a win.
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