BENGALURU: After going through 24 match days in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Mumbai and Delhi will battle it out for the title at Chinnaswamy Stadium on Saturday.If Mumbai are unbeaten so far, Delhi’s only blip in the competition came against Odisha. The former’s unbeaten streak has primarily been due to some consistent batting from their top order, which will be tested against Gautam Gambhir’s pacers.
The likes of Prithvi Shaw (348 runs in 4 matches), Ajinkya Rahane (247 in 4) and skipper Shreyas Iyer (366 in 6) have been Mumbai’s standout performers in the tournament. The team will once again expect these players to score a bulk of the runs. Delhi must chalk out some plans to stop them from notching up big scores. Of the three times Mumbai have batted first, they have scored 350-plus twice.
With bowlers like Kulwant Khejroliya and Navdeep Saini, who have taken 14 and 13 wickets in four and seven matches, respectively, Delhi have it in them to silence the trio. Also, spinner Lalit Yadav has taken 13 wickets in nine games.
Mumbai have scored at a good rate, due chiefly to Shaw’s aggression. The opener, who is declared fit to play after sustaining a shoulder injury in the last match, has gone at a strike rate of 142 with 42 fours and 14 sixes. If Shaw gets off to another start, he can set a good platform for the rest of the batsmen to follow.
There is no two ways about Shaw’s batting, but with Rahane set to be the youngster’s partner at the other end, the combination looks perfect for a high-profile clash. Irrespective of the opposition bowling, Mumbai coach Vinayak Samant wants Shaw to play his natural game.
“Opening partnership is important for any team. It is going to be same for us as well. I can’t tell Shaw ‘go and watch the ball and play accordingly’. He is like Sehwag. You can’t tell him to leave and ball and stuff. The good thing is Ajinkya will be there with him, so he will take care of him. I feel there will be a good contest between bat and ball,” said Samant.
Despite both teams possessing some experienced men in the domestic circuit, there will be butterflies in their stomach on the eve of the final. With Delhi having won close matches, they have already faced some difficult situations, which keeps them in good shape for the final. Latest example being their semifinal against Jharkhand. They won with two balls to spare after being reduced to 149/8 while chasing 200 to win.
“If you look at this tournament, our players have been through pressure situations and delivered. That’s why we have reached this level. I think that’s good for the team,” said Delhi coach Mithun Manhas, who will also look forward to Gambhir (490 runs) making another good contribution with his bat to help them outdo Mumbai.