Many small battles are expected to unfold when the season's two most consistent teams -- Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals -- cross swords in a clash of equals in the Indian Premier League at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
Be it a potent top-order, a strong middle-order or a lethal bowling attack, there is hardly anything that separates the two sides.
If at all one team has a slight upper hand in any department, it's the experience in Mumbai Indians' pace bowling arsenal. Both Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, with years of experience behind them, could be the difference in the most sought-after contest of this edition.
It means that Shikhar Dhawan will have to strive harder to give the Capitals a solid start. The left-handed batsman has got starts in the last few games but needs a bigger innings under his belt and if it comes in a big contest, Capitals will have gained a lot.
In a way, young Prithvi Shaw and the in-form Rishabh Pant will face their first stiff test when they face Bumrah and Boult, who can trouble any batsman with their pace and accuracy.
The good news for Capitals is Shimron Hetmyer getting his touch back with the innings against Rajasthan Royals on Friday. He seemed to be the only weak link in Capitals' ranks but his six-laden knock against Royals has removed that worry.
Capitals' skipper Shreyas Iyer has been very impressive so far both as a batsman and as the leader of the pack. It will be interesting to see how he uses his resources against his in-form counterpart Rohit Sharma and his smashing middle-order due of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.
They can change the complexion of the game within minutes and handling them will be the key. Krunal Pandya, too, is capable of conjuring up cameos that can turn things around for Mumbai Indians.
Iyer has the exciting South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje to do the job in that department. The guile of Ravichandran Ashwin further adds string to Capitals' attack.
Axar Patel has nicely settled into the side after he replaced the injured Amit Mishra. His all-round ability is another plus for the Capitals.
At the big Abu Dhabi ground, a score in the vicinity of 170 is normally par for any other side in the IPL, but for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, even 200 may not appear safe.
Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock(w), Rohit Sharma(c), 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, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jayant Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, Sherfane Rutherford, Digvijay Deshmukh, Prince Balwant Rai
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer(c), Rishabh Pant(w), Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis, Harshal Patel, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ishant Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohit Sharma, Alex Carey, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Lamichhane, Keemo Paul, Tushar Deshpande, Daniel Sams, Lalit Yadav
Starting XI Prediction:
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
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer (C), Rishabh Pant (Wk), Marcus Stoinis, Shimron Hetmyer, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, R Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
Mumbai Indians vs Delhi Capitals Dream11 Picks:
Rohit Sharma (C), Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (Wk), Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah, Kagiso Rabada
Delhi Capitals: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer(C), Alex Carey(Wk), Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje
Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock(Wk), Rohit Sharma(C), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, James Pattinson, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
The game begins!
Prithvi Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan are at the crease. Shaw is on strike. Boult will open the attack for Mumbai!
Score after 5 overs: DC (32-2)
Mumbai bowlers have started well, picking up two wickets early on. Same cannot be said for Delhi, who now need to stabilise their batting as well as script a good target.
Score after 10 overs: DC (80-2)
Delhi has picked up pace. Both Shikhar Dhawan and Shreyas Iyer look settled at the crease. The pair is likely to complete their half-centuries. Mumbai need wickets of one of the batsmen to regain some control over the game.
Score after 15 overs: DC (111-3)
The batsmen were placed in a do or die situation and skipper Iyer paid the price by giving away the wicket. Delhi needed more boundaries to reach a respectable target. In the process, Iyer's shot was met with a catch.
Shreyas Iyer c Boult b Krunal Pandya 42(33) [4s-5]
Score after 20 overs: DC (162-4), MI needs 163 to win!
Delhi Capitals have set a decent target for Mumbai given the size of Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. However, the Delhi bowlers will have to be at their best if they want to contain Mumbai's in-form batting prowess.
The chase begins!
Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock are at the crease. Rohit is on strike. Rabada will open the attack for DC!
Score after 5 overs: MI (31-1)
Mumbai had a slow start before Quinton de Kock started scripting boundaries. But the skipper, Rohit Sharma, was held back and eventually dismissed. Suryakumar Yadav, the star of Mumbai's previous fixture, is now in the middle with de Kock. Their main aim will be stability as well as boundaries, something which will not be a task a Mumbai batsmen.
Score after 10 overs: MI (78-2)
Quinton de Kock was dismissed after a brilliant inning which saw him score 7 boundaries including 3 maximums. Now Yadav and Ishan Kishan are at the crease. Victory looks in sight for Mumbai!
Score after 15 overs: MI (130-3)
Yadav completed his half-century before he was dismissed. Mumbai's batting prowess is seemingly never ending with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Hardik and Krunal Pandya still waiting to bat. With that said, this will be a piece of cake for Mumbai.
Mumbai Indians defeat Delhi Capitals by 5 wickets!
Mumbai Indians (MI) once again showed why they are a force to reckon with as the Rohit Sharma's team outclassed Delhi Capitals (DC) by five wickets in a top-of-the-table clash on Sunday night.
Suryakumar Yadav and opener-cum-stumper Quinton de Kock chipped in with a crucial 53 runs each to help MI, chasing a 163-run target, register their fourth win on the trot, and fifth overall, from seven games so far.
The win at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium also helped the defending champions leapfrog DC to reclaim the top spot in the points table.
Chasing the target, MI opener Rohit Sharma (5) departed early, thanks to Axar Patel who had him caught by Kagiso Rabada.
The fall of Sharma saw Suryakumar Yadav (53) joining de Kock (53) in the middle and the duo steered MI to the 50-run mark in 6.4 overs.
The partnership, however, didn't last long as Ravichandran Ashwin sent back de Kock in the 10th over with MI's scorecard reading 77/2. de Kock's knock saw four boundaries and three sixes.
Suryakumar and Ishan Kishan (28) then added 53 runs in the next 31 balls as MI recovered from the early damage.
Speedster Rabada finally got rid of Suryakumar in the 15th over before Marcus Stoinis further jolted the defending champions after sending back Hardik Pandya for a duck.
Just after MI managed another 22 runs to their total, Rabada sent Ishan Kishan back to the hut to raise DC hopes.
However, Keiron Pollard (11) and Krunal Pandya (12) dented DC's expectations as they comfortably drove their side home with two balls to spare.
For DC, Rabada picked two wickets for 28 runs while Axar, Ashwin, and Stoinis bagged a wicket each.
Earlier, some economical bowling by MI saw DC managing a fighting 162/4 in the allotted 20 overs.
Opting to bat, DC lost in-form opener Prithvi Shaw (4) and Ajinkya Rahane (15) early.
However, Shikhar Dhawan (69 not out) kept on end intact and received good support from skipper Shreyas Iyer (42) in the middle as the pair anchored DC's innings.
The duo were involved in a crucial 85-run partnership for the third wicket.
After Iyer's departure in the 15th over, Marcus Stoinis (13) too, fell cheaply before Dhawan and Alex Carey added 32 runs in the final 21 balls to help DC post a respectable 162/4.
Dhawan's knock was decorated with six boundaries and a maximum.
Krunal Pandya picked couple of wickets conceding 26 runs while paver Trent Boult managed one for 36 runs.
Brief scores: DC 162/4 wkts in 20 overs (Shikhar Dhawan 69 not out, Shreyas Iyer 42; Krunal Pandya 2/26) lost to MI 166/5 wkts in 19.4 overs (Quinton de Kock 53, Suryakumar Yadav 53, Kagiso Rabada 2/28) by 5 wickets