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In-form Daredevils pose huge challenge to wayward Mumbai Indians

Last updated on: April 22, 2016 17:26 IST

Delhi Daredvils' coach Rahul Dravid with his deputy Paddy Upton and players JP Duminy and Zaheer Khan during a warm-up session

IMAGE: Delhi Daredevils coach Rahul Dravid with his deputy, Paddy Upton, and players J P Duminy and Zaheer Khan during a warm-up session. Photograph: BCCI

On a roll after a poor start, Delhi Daredevils will look to complete a hat-trick of victories on home turf when they take on defending champions Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League encounter in Delhi on Saturday.

After losing to Kolkata Knight Riders by nine wickets in their tournament opener, the Daredevils bounced back strongly, riding on the team’s batting, to comfortably beat Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore in their next two games.

They are presently third in the league standings, with four points from three games, while Mumbai Indians are placed fifth after two wins and three losses from five matches.

Delhi Daredevils' Quinton De Kock

IMAGE: Delhi Daredevils opener Quinton De Kock. Photograph: BCCI

After the flop show in their opening match against Kolkata Knight Riders, Daredevils’ batting came to the party in the last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Against Kolkata Knight Riders, they were shot out for 98 and then went untested in the second game against Kings XI Punjab as the target was a meagre 112.

However, in the last game against RCB, the IPL's ninth season witnessed its maiden century when South Africa opener Quinton de Kock blazed his way to 108 off just 51 deliveries to guide the Rahul Dravid-coached side to a seven-wicket win, while chasing an imposing 192-run target.

Besides, De Kock, young Karun Nair also played a pivotal role, scoring an unbeaten 54 off 42 balls.

Come Saturday, the duo will hope to carry on their good form against Mumbai Indians.

The Delhi Daredevils' Amit Mishra, Pawan Negi and Sanju Samson celebrate a wicket

IMAGE: Delhi Daredevils' Amit Mishra, Pawan Negi and Sanju Samson celebrate a wicket. Photograph: BCCI

But what must be worrying Daredevils coach Dravid most is, besides De Kock and Nair, the team's batting line-up is relatively untested.

Delhi's fortunes will also depend on the performances of J P Duminy and big buys like Pawan Negi and Carlos Brathwaite, who are capable of winning matches for the team.

On the bowling front, Daredevils have experience, with captain Zaheer Khan leading the pack and showing that there is still plenty left in his armoury.

While Chris Morris was economical upfront, Mohammad Shami leaked a few runs despite picking two wickets in his comeback IPL game after a long lay-off.

India's best leg-spinner Amit Mishra has time and again risen to the occasion and will be leading Daredevils' spin department in the company of Negi.

Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma raises his bat after scoring a fifty

IMAGE: Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma raises his bat after scoring a fifty. Photograph: BCCI

In contrast, Mumbai Indians have been inconsistent thus far.

The Rohit Sharma-led side suffered defeats against Rising Pune Supergiants, Gujarat Lions and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

They initially struggled to get the team combination right, but did come good with a convincing chase of a 170-plus score against Virat Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The two-time title winners slumped to defeats in both their home matches -- to IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions.

Barring captain Rohit Sharma, their top-order batting hasn't clicked so far.

Rohit was instrumental in both their victories, scoring superb half-centuries, while the leading batsmen failed to click as a unit.

Mumbai Indians's Krunal Pandya celebrates the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Mumbai Indians's Krunal Pandya celebrates the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli. Photograph: BCCI

Martin Guptill, who replaced injured Lendl Simmons, failed to live up to expectations in his first game, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, prompting Mumbai's team management to drop him against RCB in the last match.

A fit-again Kieron Pollard, who replaced him, made an immediate impact, scoring a match-winning 19-ball-39 not out.

Englishman Jos Buttler and India discard Ambati Rayudu are getting starts, but it is the big-hitting Pollard who can make a difference.

While Hardik Pandya has been off-colour, his brother Krunal grabbed his opportunities with both hands by making an impact with both bat and ball.

In the absence of their ever-reliable Sri Lankan 'slinger' Lasith Malinga, Mumbai Indians have depended on the New Zealand duo of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan to make early inroads and this combination is expected to continue against RCB.

Teams (from):

Delhi Daredevils: Zaheer Khan (captain), Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy, Mayank Agarwal, Shreyas Iyer, Carlos Brathwaite, Karun Nair, Pawan Negi, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Pawan Suyal, Jayant Yadav, Chris Morris, Sam Billings, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Imran Tahir, Mahipal Lomor, Chama Milind, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Shahbaz Nadeem, Khaleel Ahmed, Akhil Herwadkar, Pratyush Singh.

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Parthiv Patel, Hardik Pandya, Jos Buttler, Mitchell McClenaghan, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Jagadeesha Suchith, Tim Southee, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal, R Vinay Kumar, Corey Anderson, Unmukht Chand, Marchant de Lange, Siddhesh Lad, Kishore Kamath, Krunal Pandya, Deepak Punia, Nitish Rana, Jitesh Sharma, Nathu Singh, Akshay Wakhare, Martin Guptill.

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