After 11 seasons of disappointment, disillusionment, and discarding countless players who have gone on to become superstars in other teams, Delhi Daredevils have put their faith in the power of the makeover, and rebranded themselves - they are now Delhi Capitals. Give them some time if that name rolls a little awkwardly off your tongue right now, but they will not want to take too much time to get into gear on the field.
Their opponents on Sunday, Mumbai Indians, are renowned for their slow starts, but Delhi have been no better. The two teams have the joint-worst win percentage (36.40) of all the current IPL teams in season-opening matches, having each won four out of 11 so far. Mumbai are known for rebounding spectacularly from sluggish starts, but they couldn't quite manage it last season, finishing fifth on the points table. Delhi did even worse, ending up rock bottom with only five wins. Both teams, therefore, are looking for a fresh start.
With the World Cup squad announcement deadline (April 23) exactly a month away, the players will also want to begin the IPL brightly, particularly those whose ODI spots aren't entirely certain. Among India players, Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya, the latter mostly for fitness reasons, belong in that category, and a great start to the IPL could be just the push they need.
In the news
- Mumbai's overseas pace stocks have taken a hit with a heel injury ruling Adam Milne out for the entire season and Lasith Malinga possibly missing their first six matches to play domestic 50-overs cricket and keep himself in contention for a World Cup place.
- They will be without another of their overseas fast-bowling options for this game, with Jason Behrendorff not having arrived in India yet.
- Chris Morris won't be available for Delhi since he's in South Africa's squad for Sunday's third T20I against Sri Lanka. Kagiso Rabada (Delhi) and Quinton de Kock (Mumbai), however, are in India and have trained with their respective teams.
- Rohit Sharma batted at Nos. 3 or 4 through most of a disappointing 2018 campaign with the bat. This year, however, he has promised he will open in "all the games".
- Hardik Pandya is returning from a lower-back issue that kept him out of the ODIs and T20Is against Australia at home. Mumbai coach Mahela Jayawardene insisted on Saturday that Hardik was "200% fit".
Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk)/Evin Lewis, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4, Ishan Kishan (wk), 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ben Cutting, 9 Mitchell McClenaghan, 10 Mayank Markande, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Delhi Capitals: 1 Colin Munro, 2 Prithvi Shaw, 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 5 Colin Ingram, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Axar Patel, 8 Sandeep Lamichhane, 9 Kagiso Rabada/Trent Boult, 10 Avesh Khan/Amit Mishra, 11 Ishant Sharma
- Kagiso Rabada or Trent Boult? A difficult question for Delhi to answer, but it becomes easier when you know who the main threat in the opposition's top order is. In six meetings in T20 cricket, Rohit Sharma has faced 18 balls from Boult, scoring 24 runs off them while being dismissed three times. He's done better against Rabada: 24 off 20 balls with one dismissal, and has performed better against right-arm pace (average 34.1, SR 145.8) than left-arm pace (average 21.8, SR 141.9) in T20s since the start of 2015.
- Prithvi Shaw is destructive against pace: he averages 44.3 and has a strike rate of 162.4 against the quicks in T20 cricket. Against spin, though, he only averages 13.6 while striking at 128.3. Mumbai don't have too much depth in the spin department, but they could call upon Krunal Pandya or Mayank Markande for an over or two in the Powerplay against Shaw.
Stats that matter
- Mumbai and Delhi have met 22 times in the IPL, and have won 11 games each. Delhi won both their meetings last season, Jason Roy sealing a last-ball finish at Wankhede Stadium and legspinners Amit Mishra and Sandeep Lamichhane combining to knock Mumbai out of contention for the playoffs in Delhi.
- Rohit has only opened 19 times in his IPL career, and at the top of the order has achieved his best average (40.9) at any position, and his second-best strike rate (131.8).
- Sunday's match will be Rohit's 300th T20 appearance.
- Teams winning the toss chose to bowl in all nine matches at the Wankhede last season, but teams batting first didn't do too badly, winning four times.
- If he plays, Ishant Sharma will play an IPL match for the first time since May 2017, when he featured for Rising Pune Supergiant against Kings XI Punjab.
- Jasprit Bumrah has an exceptional T20 record against Pant, having dismissed him three times in 17 balls across five meetings, while conceding only eight runs.
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo