After over six weeks of power-packed action, the extravaganza of IPL 2020 is now only a few steps away from its culmination. In the first Qualifier of this season, defending champions Mumbai Indians are all set to lock horns with Shreyas Iyer-led Delhi Capitals at Dubai International Stadium on Thursday.
The Mumbai franchise, with Rohit Sharma at the helm, has been the most consistent side this year. Even during Rohit's absence from the side owing to an hamstring injury, the side managed to deliver and win under Kieron Pollard's leadership. Their league-stage journey, however, ended in a bitter way as they suffered a thumping 10-wicket defeat against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH).
Eyeing to shrug off the memories of their embarrassing defeat, the MI side will aim to pave its way in the final of the tournament. After going with a tweaked playing XI against SRH -- without the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult and Hardik Pandya -- the Mumbai Paltan will come out all guns blazing against the Capitals on Thursday. Their league-stage journey was an impressive one as MI finished at the top of the pile by pocketing nine victories from 14 games.
Mumbai top-order has been firing on all-cylinders and young Ishan Kishan (428 runs) has been a revelation. Quinton De Kock (443) would be keen to continue his sublime form while opening with Rohit.
And so would Suryakumar Yadav (410), who has played some scintillating knocks. Known for their six-hitting prowess, Hardik Pandya (241), Kieron Pollard (259) and Krunal Pandya (95) have pummelled bowling attacks to submission.
Pollard's six-hitting ability was on display again when he plundered four maximums against SRH. The three could prove to be the difference. And in the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah (23 wickets) and Trent Boult (20 wickets) have been phenomenal for the four-time champions.
Talking about the Capitals, the Delhi side registered a win when it mattered most. By handing RCB a six-wicket drubbing, DC finished second in the points table to keep hopes of their maiden IPL title alive.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for Ricky Ponting's men this season. After delivering dominant performances at the start, DC endured a torrid run in the end, suffering four successive losses. However, they ultimately managed to clinch the second spot by defeating RCB in their last league-stage fixture.
Ajinkya Rahane (111 runs) is back among runs after scoring a match-winning 60 against RCB. Shikhar Dhawan (525) has been in blazing form, with two hundreds and three fifties, but will need support from others in a big game.
A major cause of concern is the form of two youngsters -- opener Prithvi Shaw (228) and Rishabh Pant (282) -- who haven't lived up to their true potential. So has been the case of their key overseas players -- West Indian Shimron Hetmyer (138 runs) and Marcus Stoinis (249 runs).
Skipper Shreyas Iyer (421) will have to play the anchor's role. On the bowling front, the South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada (25 wickets) and Anrich Nortje (19) have been exceptional. Ravichandran Ashwin and Axar Patel have done well to suffocate the opposition teams. Earlier in the league stage, Mumbai got the better of Delhi twice but Rohit conceded that it is history.
"You keep doing well, I know you want to remember those performances, but it is always nice to forget what has happened and focus on the present," Rohit said.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Pattison, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prince Balwant Rai, Quinton De Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult.
Delhi Capitals: Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (c), Kagiso Rabada, Marcus Stoinis, Sandeep Lamichhane, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimron Hetmyer, Alex Carey, Mohit Sharma, Prithvi Shaw, Lalit Yadav, Avesh Khan, Axar Patel, Tushar Deshpande, Rishabh Pant, Harshal Patel, Keemo Paul, Amit Mishra, Anrich Nortje, Daniel Sams.
The Match starts at 7:30 PM IST.
(With PTI inputs)