For the next month and a half, Indian Premier League (IPL) may be the buzzword, but all the preparations will be done keeping the ICC World Cup in mind.

The players, too, will be focusing on the larger picture, trying to address the weak links before boarding the flight to England.

That’s one of the reasons why Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma has decided to open the innings for the franchise throughout the tournament. “The (World Cup) is one of the factors but also keeping in mind that this is where I bat and this is my position when I play for India also,” Sharma said.

Team analysis: Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals

The process will begin when the side takes on Delhi Capitals at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. The focus will also be on Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah. The two are certainly India’s best bets in the World Cup and IPL will be crucial for their preparations.

 

Pandya has had two breakdowns in the last six months, and now that he is back in Mumbai Indians’ scheme of things, the franchise needs to be careful about his fitness and form.

The side also has concerns in the pace department after Sri Lanka ace Lasith Malinga and New Zealand’s Adam Milne made themselves unavailable for the initial stage of IPL. In such a scenario, it needs to be seen how the franchise manages Bumrah’s workload.

READ: Malinga to miss six matches for Mumbai Indians

That apart, Mumbai looks settled ahead of the opener.

The three-time champion side has added the seasoned Yuvraj Singh to its squad, who could give the side stability in the middle-order. The team also has a few big-hitters in Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting and Suryakumar Yadav.

While the pace department would now depend mostly on Bumrah, Cutting and Mitchell McClenaghan, the youngsters like Krunal Pandya, Mayank Markande and Rahul Chahar could prove effective against the Delhi side.

SSLIVEPANDYA-DHAWAN

Delhi Capitals’ Shikhar Dhawan and Mumbai Indians’ Hardik Pandya during a practice session on Friday.

 

Delhi Capitals, coming into the tournament with a new name, will be relying heavily on its batsmen to crack the Mumbai code.

The side has Shikhar Dhawan in its ranks and it is important that the left-handed batsman makes the most of the opportunity. In the recently-concluded ODI series against Australia, Dhawan could score only 177 runs in five innings, raising serious doubts about his form. And now, here is an opportunity for him to get back in shape and gain some confidence ahead of the World Cup.

The focus will also be on stumper-batsman, Rishabh Pant, who looks set for a Team India berth in the World Cup. The youngster has had an amazing run with the national team and the Delhi franchise will be hoping for him to come good.

Led by a Mumbai boy, Shreyas Iyer, the side also has a young talent in Prithvi Shaw, who could change the colour of any game. Seasoned campaigners, Colin Munro and Chris Morris, will also play a crucial role.

The visiting side’s pace department looks fiery with Trent Boult, Ishant Sharma and Kagiso Rabada in its ranks.

Ever since the inception of IPL, the Delhi franchise — previously known as Delhi Daredevils — has never made it to the final and it remains to be seen whether a fresh look and a new name will usher in a change in its fortunes.