Can Delhi overgrow their dry home ground?

IPL 2019

The biggest focus will be on Rishabh Pant and how he reacts to the World Cup snub. © BCCI

It is eight matches into IPL 2019 for both Delhi Capitals and Mumbai Indians, and for a change their fortunes have been a lot better than last season. At around the same stage in 2018, the Capitals (then known as Daredevils) had lost six of their first eight games and were reduced to the bottom half of the points table. Mumbai Indians weren’t any better, having similar numbers to the Delhi-based franchise. But 2019 has been a fresh narrative for these two teams, both of whom have five wins from eight games and have been making the right noises ahead of the business end of the tournament.

Meanwhile, both teams have a bit of a concern as far as their top-order batting is concerned in the last few games. While Shikhar Dhawan’s unbeaten 97 against Kolkata Knight Riders came as a welcome return to form for the left-handed opener, his partner Prithvi Shaw is yet to cross fifty in five innings since his 99 against the Knight Riders at home. Skipper Shreyas Iyer has been getting good starts but he has converted only one of those into a half-century, while Colin Ingram has also not been consistent to his and the team’s liking. But the biggest focus will be on Rishabh Pant and how he reacts to the World Cup snub. The swashbuckling left-hander hasn’t been finishing games for his team despite being in the best position to do so and he’ll be eager to make a statement or two.

Quinton de Kock’s form augurs well for the Mumbai Indians, with the South African consistently providing good starts at the top of the order. But the team will expect more from their skipper, who is yet to register a half-century this season despite promising knocks in most of his innings. Mumbai Indians have been more reliant on the lower order to get the job done, with Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya essaying crucial roles. They will be hoping that the top four can score the bulk of the runs and set up the innings nicely for Mumbai Indians, who has not often been the case for them this season.

The return of Lasith Malinga has helped Mumbai Indians make up for the injury to Alzarri Joseph, who hurt his right arm on the field in last Saturday’s match against Rajasthan Royals. They will be concerned with Jason Behrendorff’s performances as the pacer has gone in excess of 10 in his last two matches. The Capitals have been well served by Kagiso Rabada and Chris Morris in their last three games, which they won on the bounce, and they will be hoping that they continue in the same vein at home, where there only win so far came in the Super Over against the Knight Riders.

When: Thursday, April 18 at 8:00 PM IST

Where: Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi

What to expect: Slow wickets in the first few matches in Delhi has meant that Feroz Shah Kotla hasn’t quite been the fortress for the Capitals as coach Ricky Ponting hopes it to be. Their last game here was a loss to the Sunrisers, with the hosts only managing a total of 129 while batting first. Ponting, however, insisted that the Capitals are now familiar with the slow-natured tracks and will use it to their advantage against the visiting teams. There was some rain on the day before the game but showers aren’t expected on the match day.

Team News:

Delhi Capitals: Colin Ingram, who recently became a dad, missed Delhi’s previous game. In case he’s not joined the team, Colin Munro is likely to continue in the playing eleven. The Capitals have also roped in J Suchith as a replacement for the injured Harshal Patel and it’ll be interesting to see if he gets a game considering the nature of the Kotla track. But the Capitals are more likely to go in with Sandeep Lamichhane for their home game, with the Nepal cricketer likely to replace Keemo Paul.

Probable XI: Prithvi Shaw, Shikhar Dhawan, Colin Munro, Shreyas Iyer (c), Rishabh Pant (wk), Chris Morris, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, Sandeep Lamichhane, Amit Mishra, Ishant Sharma

Mumbai Indians: There is no clarity yet on Alzarri Joseph’s fitness status. Meanwhile, with Behrendorff going for runs, Mumbai Indians could look at bringing in someone like Mitchell McClenaghan. Could they go for both Rahul Chahar and Mayank Markande on a slow, low track?

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jason Behrendorff/Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah

What they said:

“It’s going to be difficult for Mumbai, coming and playing on this kind of surface. We have a pretty clear understanding of how our wicket is going to play. We expect it’s going to be quite slow, low and probably turn a little bit. We just have to be well prepared for that. I think the last wicket probably caught us a little bit off-guard. At the end of the day, the wicket is what it is, both teams have to play on it and hopefully we can play better on this one than the last one” – Ricky Ponting.

© Cricbuzz

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