Reigning champions Mumbai Indians (MI) will face Delhi Capitals (DC), looking to shake off the ghosts that haunted them in the closing stages of the league phase, in the first Qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Dubai International stadium here on Thursday.
The team that lose the match will get a lifeline, and both sides will be looking to avoid playing the extra match.
MI have always been a strong contender for the title, and this season is no different. Ticking all the boxes so far, the Rohit Sharma-led side are clear favourites on Thursday.
MI have put up all-round performances in the batting line-up, evidenced by the fact that only Quinton de Kock (443 runs from 14 games) features in the top 10 of the highest run scorers.
And yet, MI have comfortably managed to put big totals on board. They were, however, at the receiving end in their last league match against SunRisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Tuesday. They had rested ace fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah (23 wickets) and Trent Boult (20) which resulted in MI failing to take a single wicket against SRH.
The match would hence be seen as a one-off for MI and the threat of Bumrah and Boult tearing into the DC top order, which has looked fragile in their final league matches.
Meanwhile, de Kock, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are in sublime touch and would look to continue with it. The comeback of captain Rohit will further lift the morale of the side but the MI skipper, who fell cheaply against SRH, needs to get in the groove as early as possible.
Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya will look to build on the momentum down the order.
Rahul Chahar, Pollard and Krunal have been quite effective so far, reducing the pressure from Bumrah and Boult. For DC, Ajinkya Rahane (111 runs) is back amongst runs after scoring a match-winning 46-ball 60 against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
DC have however been plagued with inconsistency in their batting lineup which they will have to guard themselves against as they face two of the most lethal new ball bowlers in the world. Opener Prithvi Shaw (228 runs) has struggled to find form since his rapid start to the season and the same can be said about Rishabh Pant (282 runs) since he made his comeback from injury.
Captain Shreyas Iyer (421 runs) will have to lay the foundation of something challenging on board.
The inconsistency in the batting lineup has often seeped into their otherwise strong bowling attack. Kagiso Rabada (25 wickets) and compatriot Anrich Nortje (19 wickets) will again be DC's go-to men. Like Bumrah and Boult, the South African pace duo would also eye support from experienced Ravichandran Ashwin (10 wickets) and Axar Patel (8 wickets) to further reinforce their bowling attack.
While MI will draw confidence from the fact that they have beaten DC in both games this season, DC would try to leave no stone unturned in their bid for a maiden title.
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer(C), Rishabh Pant(Wk), Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Sams, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Harshal Patel, Shimron Hetmyer, Mohit Sharma, Alex Carey, Avesh Khan, Praveen Dubey, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Tushar Deshpande, Lalit Yadav
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(C), Quinton de Kock(Wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, James Pattinson, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Dhawal Kulkarni, Saurabh Tiwary, Aditya Tare, Mitchell McClenaghan, Chris Lynn, Jayant Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Sherfane Rutherford, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai, Nathan Coulter-Nile
Starting XI Prediction:
Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (Wk), Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, R Ashwin, Daniel Sams, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Capitals Dream11 Picks:
Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Quinton de Kock (Wk), Hardik Pandya, Shreyas Iyer, Kieron Pollard, R Ashwin, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada
Starting XI Squads:
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(C), Quinton de Kock(Wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer(C), Rishabh Pant(Wk), Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Sams, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
The game begins!
de Kock and Rohit are at the crease. de Kock is on strike. Daniel Sams will open the attack for DC!
The chase begins!
Prithvi Shaw and Dhawan are at the crease. Prithvi Shaw is on strike. Boult will open the attack for MI!
Mumbi Indians defeat Delhi Capitals by 57 runs!
With the win, Rohit Sharma's Paltan have qualified for the IPL finals. Delhi Capitals, meanwhile, will have another chance to reach the finals when they take on the winner of the second qualifier between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad.