MI, DD in search of first win

Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils are the only teams who have yet to win this season.

Hardik Pandya, who missed his team's last match, appears to have regained fitness and is in contention to play against Delhi Daredevils.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The shortest version of the game has always been akin to a roll of the dice situation for all those involved in it and after going down in their first two matches, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils will want to get on board in the 4pm match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday. MI has won five of the six matches against the Daredevils at the Wankhede Stadium.

The defending champion MI must be particularly disappointed in the manner in which it gifted the first two points when it had Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by the scruff of its neck in the league opener last Saturday and also that it could not defend ten runs  in the last over against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Thursday.

 

Under the cosh now, the three-time winner — which has been forced to make a few changes because of an ankle-related injury to all-rounder Hardik Pandya and the non-availability of Australian fast bowler Pat Cummins — is hopeful of fielding its best eleven against the Daredevils. Cummins has been replaced by New Zealand  fast bowler Adam Milne, who turned out for the Bangalore franchise in the last two seasons. MI had started the league with New Zealand left-arm seamer Mitchell McGlenaghan coming in as replacement  for Australian left-armer Jason Behrendorff.

Retained before the auction, MI had cut out a larger role for the Hardik, looking beyond as a vital cog in the batting wheel. He played a significant part in MI’s outing against CSK (22 not out in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 52 and three for 24 from four overs). Constantly monitored by the team’s medical staff, Hardik appears to have recovered from the ankle twist and was at the team’s optional practise session on Friday evening. He started a full training session after 6pm.

The good news from the MI ranks so far has come from the rookie Punjab tweaker Mayank Markande. After his three-wicket haul in his IPL debut against CSK, Markande accounted for the dismissals of four of the top five SRH wickets and straightaway confirmed a belief that MI’s fortunes would largely hinge on his capacity to take wickets a bagful.

Player battle: Markande vs Gambhir

The Daredevils was soundly beaten by the Mohali side in its opening match, but it can consider itself a trifle unlucky not to have got past Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. "We bowled well on a flat wicket. We were in control of the match, but not the rain  and nature,’’ said Shahbaz Nadeem, the team’s left-arm spinner.

Nadeem who has played 56 matches for the Daredevils and under different coaches said: "Ricky Ponting’s only mantra is to win. He does not believe in how you play or what you do. For him at the end of the day, the results should be positive. "We are here to win the championship and that’s what he tells us every day."

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