Vijay Hazare Trophy: Marauding Mumbai meets combative Delhi in final

Having taken contrasting routes to the final, the domestic heavyweights will renew their storied rivalry at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday.

Pugnacious: Gautam Gambhir has been a tough nut to crack in this tourney so far, and Mumbai would like to see the back of him quickly in the final.   -  AP

Delhi and Mumbai may have taken contrasting routes to the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy but form will be of no concern to anyone when the domestic heavyweights clash here on Saturday. The two sides have faced each other in six Ranji Trophy finals, and their storied rivalry should ensure another fine contest at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

Delhi, who last won the title in 2013, sneaked past a doughty Jharkhand in the semifinals after Pawan Negi and Navdeep Saini produced a thrilling, rearguard effort. “If you win such games, the confidence goes really high,” the Delhi coach Mithun Manhas said. “During this tournament, all of our players have been through pressure situations and they have delivered. That's why we have come this far.”

One-man army?

Delhi has relied heavily on Gautam Gambhir's runs at the top of the order, with the captain the tournament's second-highest scorer (517 runs). On Thursday, Gambhir's dismissal triggered a collapse, and it could be argued that the side is too reliant on the left-hander. It is something that has not escaped the attention of the Mumbai camp. “There is more responsibility on Gambhir because there are a lot of stroke-players in the side,” said the coach, Vinayak Samant. “So he's not playing his game. And that's what we have to look at. When he's at the wicket, we shouldn't allow them to score runs quickly.”

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Mumbai sealed its berth in the final after brushing Hyderabad aside on Wednesday. Rohit Sharma has since left to join the Indian team, with Siddhesh Lad expected to replace him in the eleven. Ajinkya Rahane, who had moved down to four in the semifinals, will return to the opening slot. “He batted at four the other day because he's not playing for himself but for the team,” said Samant. “That's why he's a great player.”

‘Not like India-Pakistan’

Partnering Rahane will be Prithvi Shaw, who is fit to play after pulling a muscle in his shoulder against Hyderabad. The battle between Mumbai's top-order and Delhi's new-ball pair of Saini and Kulwant Khejroliya could be a decisive one, especially on a pitch that has some grass on it.

Mumbai last won the domestic one-day title 11 years ago, back when Samant was behind the stumps. “I'm not thinking that Mumbai-Delhi is a rivalry or that it's like India-Pakistan,” he said. “Delhi were struggling in the last match. And we've played like champions throughout the tournament. We just want to maintain that routine.”

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