The impressive seven-wicket victory last night at Mohali, even without two of their key bowlers — Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh — has created slender hopes for Mumbai for a late surge into the four-team play-offs.
The return to their fortress, Wankhede Stadium, where they have suffered just one defeat in the last 11 games, spreading over to last season, would be a comforting factor for skipper Rohit Sharma.
Sharma himself exuded the belief that his side can still make the play offs after lifting themselves to the fifth spot on the table.
“Anything is possible. The important aspect is, we go back to Bombay (Mumbai), and we hope we put up the performance that is expected of us in familiar territory,” Sharma said.”I have always said that we are a capable side. It’s just that we didn’t do well in our first five games in the UAE,” he added referring to the string of five straight defeats in the first phase of the tournament which is haunting them now.
A lot has happened since then as MI have resurrected their campaign after returning home but defeats against Chennai, their only defeat at the Wankhede in a long while, and Kolkata Knight Riders at Cuttack in their last six games have put their qualifying hopes on the razor’s edge.
The holders have to win their game against the Daredevils as well as the next one on Sunday against Rajasthan Royals to take their points tally to 14, and yet may lose out if other results don’t go in their favour.
The decision to hire West Indian Lendl Simmons for the home leg of the tournament seems to have worked wonders as the Trinidadian has been on a roll. He compiled the season’s first century, an unbeaten 100, last night against Kings XI Punjab.
Scores of 38, 68, 12, 62 and 100 not out in his last five strikes have put the 29-year-old Simmons 20 runs short of the 300-run mark in just five games – a remarkable achievement.
MI seems to have settled for the all-overseas opening combine of Simmons and veteran Australian Mike Hussey who flopped in UAE before showing glimpses of what he did for CSK in earlier editions with a knock of 56 in the 25-run win over Rajasthan Royals at Ahmedabad on May 21.
Big-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard has remained unbeaten in quite a few of their last few matches and a promotion up the order is the need of the hour.
The return of indisposed Harbhajan (10 in 11) would be keenly awaited by Mumbai who have reaped rewards for inducting young Karnataka leggie Shreyas Gopal into the playing eleven in the last few games.
But Mumbai would miss their top wicket taker Malinga who has left the team and gone to play for his country Sri Lanka against England in the limited overs matches and the home team would hope Praveen Kumar fits well into the Lankan’s superb death-bowling role.
Delhi, on the other hand, have been pathetic this season. Their batting, that includes captain Kevin Pietersen, has failed to click in unison and the bowling has been far from impressive.
Pietersen would hope his return to the venue where he smacked the Indian bowlers with an attacking near double hundred for England in the 2012 Test series would inspire his struggling team to stop their seven-match losing streak.
Daredevils batting is too dependent on him, South African J P Duminy and Dinesh Karthik as the likes of Murali Vijay, after a decent beginning, Manoj Tiwary, Ross Taylor and Quenton de Kock have really not done what was expected of them.
Mohammed Shami too has been disappointing with the ball and the leading wicket taker is left arm slow Shahbaz Nadeem (7 wickets from 9 games) who should relish the extra bounce on the Wankhede track.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah, Marchant de Lange, Ben Dunk, Chidhambaram Gautam, Shreyas Gopal, Harbhajan Singh, Josh Hazlewood, Michael Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Sushant Marathe, Pragyan Ojha, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Pawan Suyal, Aditya Tare, Apoorv Wankhade.
Delhi Daredevils: Kevin Pietersen (C), Mayank Agarwal, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Quinto de Kock, JP Duminy, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, S Kaul, Milind Kumar, Mohammed Shami, S Nadeem, Jimmy Neesham, Wayne Parnell, H Sharath, R Sharma, Laxmiratan Shukla, R Shukla, Ross Taylor, Manoj Tiwary, S Tiwary, Jaydev Unadkat, M Vijay and J Yadav.Match begins at 4 pm.