Riding high on confidence, Delhi Capitals (DC) will be hoping to continue their winning momentum when they host Mumbai Indians (MI) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Feroz Shah Kotla at Delhi on Thursday. Rishabh Pant will be the central focus after his highly-debated World Cup exclusion.
Pant has been mum on being ignored for the World Cup in favour of Dinesh Karthik and it would be interesting to see how the 21-year old responds to the disappointment.
With 10 points from eight games, both teams are on course to make the play-offs. While that counts as familiar territory for three-time IPL champions Mumbai Indians, Capitals are in the middle of a remarkable resurgence, having not finished in the top-four since 2012.
The celebrated duo of head coach Ricky Ponting and mentor Sourav Ganguly has managed to instill belief in the team members and that is visible on the field. The team now seems to believe that it can win the title after a long spell as the perennial underachiever of the competition.
"The support of the coaches Ricky Ponting and Sourav Ganguly... Their experience as a captain along with the belief they instill in us is great. At the same time the young boys in our team are also getting mature," said senior player Shikhar Dhawan ahead of the game against Mumbai Indians.
" It has been a good season for us. It's a clean slate for the Delhi franchise, new name, new administration, support staff everyone was new. Our team is strong and is a balanced side with the overseas and Indian players," he added.
The South African pace combination of Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris have delivered for the team. Even in the previous game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, the two pacers shared seven wickets to fashion an unlikely win for Capitals who successfully defended 155 by bowling out the hosts for 116.
West Indies pacer Keemo Paul too has come to the party in the last two games by picking up five wickets. The batting unit, led by captain Shreyas Iyer, is also hitting its strides with Dhawan back among the runs following a few quiet games.
His opening partner is due for a big knock after making little impact in the last five games.
But the centre of attention will be Pant, who will be playing his first game after missing out on a World Cup spot, a decision that has divided opinions.
The focus will also be on the Kotla pitch which has already copped criticism for its slowish nature. Ponting had described it as the "worst possible" track for the home team after a loss earlier in the tournament.
Apart from the super over game against KKR, the other two matches here have been low-scoring affairs with the home team ending on the wrong side of the result on both occasions.
Like DC, Mumbai Indians are also getting better with each game and look a more potent outfit with the return of Lasith Malinga. All-rounder Hardik Pandya is also firing on all cylinders.
Pandya, who smashed an unbeaten 37 off 16 balls in Bangalore on Thursday, has spoken about how time away from the game is helping him at the moment.
DC got the better of Mumbai Indians at Wankhede earlier in the competition, so expect the Rohit Sharma-led squad to come back harder at Kotla.
When and how to watch:
Date: April 18 (Thursday), 2019
Time: 8 PM IST
Venue: Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi
Tv guide: Star Sports Network
Live streaming: Hotstar
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer (C), Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant (WK), Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Chris Morris, Colin Munro.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jason Behrendorff, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishan Kishan, Lasith Malinga.
Delhi Capitals: Shreyas Iyer(C), Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Rishabh Pant (WK), Colin Ingram, Keemo Paul, Axar Patel, Rahul Tewatia, Amit Mishra, Kagiso Rabada, Ishant Sharma, Hanuma Vihari, Ankush Bains, Chris Morris, Sherfane Rutherford, Jalaj Saxena, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Avesh Khan, Nathu Singh, Bandaru Ayyappa, Colin Munro, Manjot Kalra.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Lasith Malinga.
(With PTI inputs)