Stragglers seek to catch up
Sunday, April 27, 2014
Start time 1430 local (1030 GMT, 1600 IST)
The big picture
The last time Mumbai Indians found themselves in a situation like this, with successive losses at the start of an IPL, was in 2008.
While their frontline bowlers have struggled for wickets, in spite of looking good in patches, it's the batting that's quickly becoming their biggest worry. Their highest score in three games so far was 141, but should they want to make changes, they risk exposing an under-strength batting bench. The only high point of their loss to Chennai Super Kings was Corey Anderson's promotion to No. 3 - it allowed the New Zealand allrounder some time at the crease and he looked to be settling well as the innings wore on.
Mumbai's opponents on Sunday, Delhi Daredevils, are facing starting troubles of their own in spite of a complete revamp of the squad after last year's drubbing. Their problem of poor starts was resolved to some extent by the pair of Quinton de Kock and M Vijay, but they have been dragged down by death bowling (exacerbated by the injury to Nathan Coulter-Nile) and the failure of their spinners. Rahul Sharma was sidelined after the first game and Shahbaaz Nadeem has already given away 114 runs at an economy rate of 9. At this stage, the best spinner in the Daredevils line-up is JP Duminy.
Players to watch
Mumbai Indians will wonder how long they ought to persist with their combination of foreign batsmen and whether they should bring in a like-for-like replacement for Michael Hussey with Ben Dunk or bolster the bowling with either Krishmar Santokie or Josh Hazlewood. At this point, Dunk may be a better option. The left-handed batsman had a breakout season in the recent Big Bash League, scoring 395 runs in 10 games to finish as the highest run-getter in the league. Moreover, a large chunk of those runs came while opening the batting for Hobart Hurricanes.
Kevin Pietersen said that one of the reasons for the four-run loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad was a sluggish start in the first six overs. In a tall chase a couple of quiet overs can change the game but Daredevils must also consider how they use JP Duminy who has shown form in this IPL. A floating role in the middle order may be the way to go for Daredevils until Pietersen and Dinesh Karthik find form and consistency.
Stats and trivia
- Daredevils batsmen have scored the most ducks in the IPL - 70. Mumbai Indians are a close second on 65.
- 6-6: The record in matches between Mumbai and Daredevils
- Mumbai's best win in terms of runs has come against Daredevils, after they defeated them by 98 runs in 2010.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo