Mumbai, May 6: Their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs kept alive by a magnificent Virender Sehwag, Delhi Daredevils would be keenly looking forward to an encore from their skipper when they take on table toppers Mumbai Indians in a must-win IPL match here tomorrow.
Chasing a stiff 176-run target, Sehwag single-handedly demolished the opposition attack with a blistering 56-ball 119-run knock that included 13 fours and six sixes to guide Delhi to a four-wicket win over Deccan Chargers last night.
The swashbuckler turned the match around and pulled his team from the brink after the Daredevils had slid to 25 for three at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. And Daredevils would be hoping for an encore from their skipper when they take on mighty Mumbai Indians tomorrow.
Sehwag's pyrotechnics against Deccan not only earned his side a fantastic come-from-behind win, but also earned him the Orange Cap from his Mumbai counterpart Sachin Tendulkar by boosting his tally of runs to a highly impressive 422. But Tendulkar (351 runs) would be eager to snatch it back from Sehwag's head when the game gets underway at the Wankhede Stadium tomorrow.
Tendulkar's mini battle for top honours with Sehwag would provide yet another fascinating façade in the high-octane clash in front of an expected packed gathering under lights. Sehwag remains central to Delhi's slim hopes of earning one of the four berths on offer for the play-offs in the T20 league.
The Delhi think tank benched regular opener David Warner yesterday, but with Aaron Finch misfiring yet again, the diminutive Australian is expected to take his place back in the playing eleven tomorrow. It's imperative that Sehwag and Warner (254 runs from nine games) fire in unison against the top-class Mumbai attack led by Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh to provide Delhi any chances of an upset victory.
The middle-order, however, has not clicked to the expected levels for Delhi, with the likes of Y Venugopal Rao, Naman Ojha and Irfan Pathan blazing a trail only in fits and starts.
By virtue of their victory over Deccan, the Daredevils now occupy the eighth position in the 10-team table with eight points, and a defeat against Mumbai would almost certainly knock them out of contention for the next stage of the tournament commencing May 24.
Going into the match, Delhi would like to forget their previous tie at home against Mumbai when Sehwag was run-out for 19 and they were eventually got shot down for a paltry 95 in less than 18 overs.
The eight-wicket defeat set off their campaign on the wrong note especially at their fortress—Feroz Shah Kotla— where they have tasted defeats in all but one out of six matches this season.
Delhi's away campaign has provided them three wins, the lone defeat coming against Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur. Their earlier visit to the metropolis also ended in victory when they chased down Pune Warriors' high total of 187 with three wickets to spare at the D Y Patil Stadium.
Delhi's bowling attack looks almost fuller now with James Hopes, Ajit Agarkar and Avishkar Salvi offering good support to pace spearhead Morne Morkel. But Irfan Pathan will have to pull up his socks and come up with consistent performances to justify his place in the team.
However, one thing what Delhi lacks in its bowling unit is a quality spinner.
Interestingly, Delhi and Mumbai find themselves in contrasting position going into the match. If Delhi need a victory to stay in title hunt, one more win wil more or less Mumbai's berth in the play-offs.
Tendulkar and his men were sitting pretty atop the table with 14 points from nine games, and a victory against Delhi would thus ensure Mumbai their entry into the last four stage.
Mumbai have been easily the form team in the tournament with Tendulkar, Ambati Rayudu (290 runs) and Rohit Sharma (233) excelling with the bat, while big-hitting Kieron Pollard and Andrew Symonds are slowly coming to grips.
Mumbai's bowling looks very strong with Malinga, the leading wicket taker in the tournament with 22 scalps, providing the early danger while steady Munaf Patel (10 wickets) and Harbhajan (also with 10 wickets) stemming the run-flow in the middle overs.
Big-hitting Tirumalasetti Suman's return to fitness after a finger injury has further strengthened Mumbai's batting. But what remains the lone matter of concern for Mumbai is an effective opening partner for Tendulkar, with Davy Jacobs being injured and his replacement Aiden Blizzard flopping in his only appearance.
With James Franklin having been tried without much success at this position, Suman is serious contender for the opening slot along with Tendulkar.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, T Suman, Munaf Patel, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Andrew Symonds, Davy Jacobs, James Franklin, Dilhara Fernando, Ray Price, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Aditya Tare, Ali Murtaza, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pawan Suyal, R Satish, Sarul Kanwar, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuzvendra Singh Chahai.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (capt), Irfan Pathan, Naman Ojha, Ajit Agarkar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Venugopal Rao, Aavishkar Salvi, Prashant Naik, Rajesh Pawar, Robin Bist, S Sriram, Tejaswi Yadav, Unmukh Chand, Varun Aaron, Vikas Mishra, Vivek Yadav, Yogesh Nagar, Shahbaz Nadeem, David Warner, James Hopes, Morne Morkel, Aaron Finch, Mathew Wade, Roelof van der Merwe, Andrew McDonald, Travis Birt, Colin Ingram, Robert Frylinck. PTI