Chase master MI up against struggling Daredevils

Against a red-hot Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils will struggle to make an impact unless the batsmen pull their weight.

Chris Morris (left) and skipper Zaheer Khan have bowled effectively for Delhi Daredevils so far.   -  K. Pichumani

Delhi Daredevils batsmen have not done justice to their talent so far in the IPL. The team has registered two wins (against Rising Pune Supergiant and Kings XI Punjab) in five games, and both were won by defending moderate scores with ease. Against a red-hot Mumbai Indians, the visiting team will struggle to make an impact unless the batsmen pull their weight.

The exception in the batting department has been the form of Sanju Samson. Averaging 43 so far, his confidence at the crease has resulted in a promotion from one-drop to opener, and the smooth-stroking batsman continues to compile runs effortlessly. An effective MI attack and a roaring sea of blue in the Wankhede stands will only add to the anxiety.

Led by Zaheer Khan, who knows local conditions perfectly, the Delhi bowlers have experience and skill. Chris Morris heads the pack with 12 dismissals from five matches while Pat Cummings and Zaheer Khan have seven wickets each. Spinners Shahbaz Nadeem, Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav have done their bit against big hitters but the under-achieving Daredevils batsmen have diluted their efforts.

Glowing in gold and blue under the floodlights, MI batsmen will challenge this hunting pack, marshalled by a canny Mumbai hand in Zaheer. Nitish Rana is an inspiration for domestic batsmen looking to reproduce first-class form in the IPL. Youngsters Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and battle-hardened Parthiv Patel have adapted well and no target looks insurmountable.

MI’s success as an all-round unit is admirable, considering the flickering form of its two impact players — Rohit Sharma and Lasith Malinga. The captain averages 12.25 runs in five innings (Orange Cap holder Rana averages 51) while the Lankan yorker specialist has four scalps in four innings.

DD all-rounder Angelo Matthew’s optimism about his team is equally admirable. “They (MI) have been on a roll and playing extremely good cricket. We certainly can beat them, we have the skill and firepower to do it. On any day, any team can beat the other side.”

The Sri Lankan captain added: “All the games (we played) this time, we were very close (to winning) but could not pull if off. Responding to a query about the absence of big names in DD, Matthews answered: “We don’t have superstars in our team, but we have got a good set of players who can win games. That is what matters. We are playing as a team. I am sure we can pull if off.”

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