Seven and half weeks of intense action later, here we are – The final of IPL 2020! And it will be contested between two teams who were on most people’s lists to make it this far. Interestingly, for all the talk of spin being a crucial weapon in the UAE, both teams have reached this stage on the back of their world-class pace bowling attacks.
After a streak of losses, Delhi Capitals have managed two wins out of their last three. What will concern them is that the one recent loss was a drubbing at the hands of the Mumbai Indians. In fact, Mumbai has done the double over Delhi this season. Delhi’s performance against the Sunrisers Hyderabad wasn’t very convincing, until Kagiso Rabada’s magical over where he scalped three wickets. Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah are locked in a tight battle for the Purple Cap, and while both of them have publicly denied any extra motivation to end up with the cap, the more wickets that either of the two get, the higher the chance their team wins.
Since 2013, the first time they lifted the trophy, Mumbai has never made it to the finals in a year ending with an even-number, let alone winning the title. They’ve broken the first step of the voodoo, but that will bring them no joy if they don’t end up as the victors today. They have been quite comfortably the best team this season, but finals are a lottery for a reason. As Marcus Stoinis affirmed, if Delhi play at their best then they have every chance of finally ending their trophy drought.
The pre-match talk by the coaches in both dressing rooms will harp along the same tune, quite similar to Shah Rukh Khan’s speech in Chak de India. Just replace “sattar minute” (In Hindi, 70 minutes – The length of a hockey match) with “40 overs”, and the speech is good to go.
Trent Boult’s availability
Mumbai will be sweating on Trent Boult’s availability. While most teams would be overjoyed to have any of Mumbai’s other pacers – Nathan Coulter-Nile, Mitchell McCleneghan, James Pattinson, Boult brings something to this team that others can’t match. The former Delhi man is the world’s premier swing bowler, and if he’s out, Bumrah will be required to bring out some magic in the powerplay as well. That could leave Delhi with a more comfortable time at the death.
Delhi’s left-handers a good option against Mumbai’s spinners
Mumbai hasn’t been too adversely affected by the lack of quality and variations in their spin department. If Shikhar Dhawan manages to play out Bumrah, and probably Boult at the beginning, he could deal considerable damage to Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya. Delhi can send out a flurry of left-handers including Shimron Hetmeyer, Axar Patel and Rishabh Pant. Mumbai will have to fall back on Kieron Pollard at least for a couple of overs in the game, but it all comes down to Delhi making sure that they don’t lose wickets early. Dhawan will also be gunning for the Orange Cap – just 68 runs short of KL Rahul going into this game.
Stoinis to open again?
The change that the Capitals made against SRH by opening with Stoinis clearly worked in their favour. But considering the options that Mumbai have at the top, Delhi might be sceptical of exposing him early on. If the in-form Stoinis falls early, Delhi could be in big trouble. Ajinkya Rahane could be asked to open again, if conditions seem to be conducive for swing. Even if isn’t asked to open, he’ll be the fail safe that is sent out in case Delhi loses early wickets.
Delhi have had more than their fair share of struggles throughout the history of the league. Keeping in mind their recent topsy-turvy form, they could be tentative early on. If Mumbai does sense any nervousness or tentativeness in the opposition, they have more than enough among their ranks to capitalize on it. Ricky Ponting will be emphasizing the need to show positive intent right from the get go, and to forget about their two losses against Mumbai. The one area where Mumbai outstrip most of their opponents is in their experience of playing at this stage quite often. While they haven’t yet shown any signs of overconfidence, could it creep in if they let their win against the same opponent in Qualifier 1 get to their heads?