MUMBAI: The right to compete in the semifinals already in their pocket, formidable Mumbai Indians would look to keep up the tempo while Delhi Daredevils would do everything to move a step closer to last-four stage when the two sides clash in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.
The hosts are under no pressure in Tuesday’s tie but Delhi need a win as no less than two victories in their three remaining games would earn them a semifinal spot.
But it would not be an easy task for Delhi to conquer Mumbai Indians at home and another loss on Tuesday would mean landing in a pressure cooker situation where two wins from two matches will be required.
Mumbai would not like to relax and lose the momentum that was briefly halted when they went to Chennai after a prolonged stint at home and lost two games on the trot prior to last night’s superb victory over Shane Warne’s Rajasthan.
The strong Delhi batting line-up, which includes India openers Virender Sehwag and captain Gautam Gambhir, caved in meekly on a turning track against Kings XI Punjab and would look forward to regain their touch.
The Brabourne authorities had more than a week to prepare the wicket for the clash and the wicket generally has not offered too much turn to the spinners even though Harbhajan Singh has revelled on it.
The visiting team not only has to battle the hot and humid conditions with the mercury soaring of late, but also the support of the crowd – particularly for Tendulkar and Sri Lanka’s pace bowler Lasith Malinga.
The key to winning the battle for Delhi lies in dismissing Tendulkar cheaply but it’s an arduous task as the champion batsman is in scorching form.
The Mumbai youngsters — Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary – have done well with the bat but it is Tendulkar who has been scoring bulk of the runs for the side.
Tendulkar, however, did not agree with the general view that his team is depending a lot on him after the victory over the Royals on Sunday.
"In Twenty20 games it is difficult to be consistent. (Kieron) Pollard has contributed well with quick 25 runs and Yusuf’s (Pathan) wicket. Everyone in the team is playing his role," Tendulkar said.
The statistics, however, tell a different tale and indicate that but for Tendulkar’s incredible form, which has fetched him the Orange Cap for becoming the top run-getter in IPL 3, Mumbai’s wheels would have come off by now.
In bowling, the story has been different as almost all the bowlers have delivered after the mauling they got from Yusuf Pathan in the opening match on March 13.
Malinga, Zaheer Khan (both with 13 wickets) and Harbhajan (12) pose a big threat for the strong Delhi batting line-up.
MI, sitting pretty with 16 points to their credit, would also like to end their home stint on a winning note and ensure they finish on top of the league table going into semifinals at Bangalore on April 21 and 22.
Their last two matches in the preliminary stage of the tournament are away ties against the strong Royal Challengers Bangalore, a revenge match, and Kolkata Knight Riders on April 17 and 19.
As far as Delhi is concerned, Sehwag has not been as consistent as Tendulkar which has hurt them especially when Gambhir missed a few matches because of injuries.
The visitors would be looking ahead to a bigger contribution from the Najafgarh marauder at the Cricket Club of India which saw his swashbuckling batting in full bloom only a few months ago against Sri Lanka in the Test series.
Delhi batsmen would also need to improve their running between the wickets to avoid the sort of misunderstanding that cost them the wickets of two in-form batsmen – Gambhir and the powerhouse David Warner – against Punjab.
The middle order looks solid with Paul Collingwood to marshal it but more would be expected from the likes of wicket keeper Dinesh Karthik to keep it going till the end.
The return to fitness of the injury-prone Ashish Nehra, who played his first tie of the IPL season on Sunday, has boosted Delhi attack, missing Dirk Nannes because of injury.
It remains to be seen whether the 33-year-old Australian Nannes, who has skipped four ties, is available for tomorrow’s match.(PTI)