New Delhi, April 22 : Delhi Daredevils will be keen to extend their new-found momentum by winning the third consecutive Indian Premier League (IPL) match when they clash against Mumbai Indians here on Saturday.
Daredevils, helmed by new skipper Zaheer Khan, began with a bump, getting beaten by Kolkata Knight Riders, raising fears of yet another disappointing campaign that has been their story in the short history of the IPL tournament.
More than the loss, it was the manner of capitulation, by a heavy margin of nine wickets, that invoked the fears of the worst in the Delhi ranks.
But unlike previous editions, the Daredevils have found an answer to overturn their false start, beating Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore subsequently.
These two victories were achieved as comfortably as they were beaten by KKR, inspiring confidence within the team.
The victories have lifted the Delhi boys to a healthy third in the standings with four points from three matches, in contrast to their opponents, who also have four points but have played two more.
South African opener Quinton de Kock has been their headline-grabber, cracking the tournament’s maiden century (109 off 51 balls) to help them chase down an imposing target of 192 runs against Bangalore.
But not much is there to write home about apart from de Kock, as the other batsmen collectively failed against KKR — shot down for only 98.
But what would worry Daredevils mentor Rahul Dravid most is that besides de Kock and Karun Nair, the team’s batting line-up is relatively untested.
Dravid would ideally want his other performers, like South African J.P. Duminy and expensive acquisitions Pawan Negi and Carlos Brathwaite, to come to the party.
West Indian Brathwaite became an overnight sensation after blasting England’s Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes to help his team win the World Twenty20 final. But he is yet to warm up to his latest task.
The management though is willing to show patience on the mercurial West Indian though how long Brathwaite needs to get going remains to be seen.
Delhi’s bowling is in better shape relatively with Zaheer using all his experience to guide the line-up in his sunset appearance as a cricketer.
Chris Morris and Mohammed Shami make up for a decent pace attack. But their trump card is undoubtedly veteran leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who has an impressive IPL record, with young Pawan Negi by his side.
Mumbai have been a victim of their inconsistency, incidentally also winning against Punjab and Bangalore.
The defending champions, however, served error-ridden performances to go down against Rising Pune Supergiants, Gujarat Lions and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
They have struggled to hit any rhythm but showed signs of getting their act together while successfully chasing 171 against Bangalore.
Mumbai’s batting has lacked fluency. Their opening act have been poor with only skipper Rohit Sharma showing skill and zeal to fight it out against adversity.
Rohit has led from the front, scoring two match-winning half centuries. But head coach Ricky Ponting would like to have his other batsmen offer more to the cause.
Kiwi Martin Guptill replaced injured West Indian Lendl Simmons but was dropped against Bangalore after flopping against Hyderabad too.
Injuries have also pegged back Mumbai with Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga ruled out of the tournament and Simmons flying back with a niggle. However, Kiwi pacer Mitchell McClenaghan has more than made up for Malinga’s absence with six wickets so far.