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Batting Fireworks on Cards as Teams on Upward Swing Face Off

The defending champions have their work cut out when they face Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla.

Published: 23rd April 2016 03:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd April 2016 12:44 PM   |  A+A-

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Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma plays a shot during the 2016 Indian Premier League.| AFP

NEW DELHI: After their best ‘worst’ start — considering the last four editions of the IPL — things finally seem to be falling into place for Mumbai Indians. Two wins in five outings isn’t really a heartening statistic for most teams, but Mumbai have been like a Porsche with a faulty carburettor since 2013 — sputtering at the beginning and then zooming away after the clog clears.

The defending champions have their work cut out when they face Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday, though. The latter seem to have taken their drubbing at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders to heart, having beaten the living daylights out of Kings XI Punjab and then Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last two outings.

Kieron Pollard — the man who seems to have regained a bit of his marauding touch after a 19-ball 39 in Mumbai’s six-wicket win against Bangalore on Wednesday — too stated that his team is wary of what lies in store for them.

“When you look at it as a trend — not only at Delhi — and go back to the person behind the scenes, Rahul Dravid was at Rajasthan also. They too had a young team, and used to do well,” he remarked.

“He has done a magnificent job with youngsters. They gravitate towards him. You can see even in this Delhi line-up that younger guys have performed. They went to Bengaluru and beat them there. That goes to show the confidence those guys have. Listen to their captain speak. Zak (Zaheer Khan) has faith in youngsters, too. With those two at the helm, there’s no better thing for young players to do, apart from going out and performing.”

Though that triumph has added a whiff of momentum to Mumbai’s campaign, they have a few niggles that need tending to. Barring Rohit Sharma, who has played an instrumental role in both their wins, hitting chiselled-with-care fifties, the top-order is yet to find its footing. Ambati Rayudu’s promotion seems to have put a rest to the scratching of heads in Mumbai’s dugout regarding who takes the one-down slot, but their middle order is still in flux. Not to mention the fact that their five-seamer attack is yet to make the new ball talk.

“In T20s, not many guys may perform on one day. Maybe just two or three guys will. So, it’s just a matter of carrying those individuals and backing them. They’re there for a reason,” was Pollard’s explanation as to how Mumbai would go about alleviating these concerns.

“They’re there because they’ve done it before. This is T20 cricket, and there’s going to be failures. It’s just about making that positive contribution at the right time.”

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