IPL 2019: Battle for second spot hots up as Delhi Capitals prepare for Mumbai Indians test

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Skippers Shreyas Iyer (l) and Rohit Sharma (r). Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

There has been little to separate Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians as the two teams get ready to lock horns for the second time in the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on Thursday.

It was Delhi who emerged victorious by 37 runs in the reverse fixture at Mumbai in what was the campaign opener for both sides.

Both teams are currently level on 10 points in the league table after registering five victories apiece with the second spot up for grabs for Thursday’s victors.

REJIGGED DELHI ON A ROLL

Thursday’s clash sees Delhi Capitals return to their home ground at the Feroz Shah Kotla after an extended spell on the road which has been a highly successful one. Since being beaten by Sunrisers Hyderabad at their home venue on April 4, Delhi have gone on to attain away victories in Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad.

Shreyas Iyer and his men have several factors clicking for them with the young squad showing strong form. In the batting department, the experience of Shikhar Dhawan has been complimented with the exuberance of youth provided by the likes of Iyer, Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw.

With the ball, South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada has been nothing short of sensational with the fast bowler leading the wicket-taking charts with 17 scalps in just eight outings. His South Africa compatriot Chris Morris, meanwhile, has been a steady influence in the all-rounder’s slot with important contributions with both bat and ball.

As such, it is no wonder that Delhi has turned heads with their displays this campaign which has the potential to turn into something special.

MUMBAI BANK ON PANDYA, POLLARD FIREPOWER

While there are several factors behind Delhi’s strong season so far, Mumbai’s two most important players have been all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.

The two right-handers have already played several quick-fire cameos down the order which have proved to be crucial in the side’s success. While Pandya’s 186 runs have come at a strike-rate of almost 192, Pollard’s 185 runs have come at a rate of almost 178.

Among batsmen to have scored more than 100 runs in the 2019 edition, only KKR’s Andre Russell has a better strike-rate than Pandya and Pollard. The two hard-hitting batsmen have together combined to account for 30 sixes this season and they possess the ability to change the complexion of the game in the blink of an eye.

INDIA OPENERS ROHIT AND DHAWAN FACE OFF

Thursday’s clash will see India’s limited-overs opening pairing of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan face up to one another. While Dhawan has been a steadying influence on his return to his hometown franchise, Rohit has struggled to hit the heights which have been expected from him at Mumbai this season.

The Mumbai skipper has returned to his favoured opening slot after a dismal individual campaign in 2018 but it has so far failed to yield the desired results. In eight innings so far, the right-hander is only averaging 27.57 with no half-centuries to show.

In contrast, Dhawan is averaging a healthy 36.57 with the left-hander already registering two half-centuries including one innings where he remained unbeaten on 97.

How the two India openers fare for their respective sides at Delhi could very well have a result-defining impact.

Dhawan and Rohit will line up on opposite sides.

Dhawan and Rohit will line up on opposite sides.

LIKELY XIs

Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Colin Munro, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Keemo Paul, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra.

Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Jason Behrendorrf, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.

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