Mumbai Indians still wait for the masterstroke

As soon as Sachin Tendulkar finished taking throw-downs, he removed his gloves and checked the condition of his injured finger. After all, it was only the second day since his return to the nets after being out of action for 10 days.

He has missed three of the Mumbai Indians' (MI) games after being struck by a Doug Bollinger delivery in the inaugural game against the Chennai Super Kings. Although Tendulkar trained with all his batting gear on for the first time on Sunday, it wasn't certain whether he would play against the Daredevils on Monday.

MI opener Richard Levi said, "He has been training well. We will see how it goes. Whether he plays tomorrow or not will be decided before the game."

The Champions League winners have had sputtering starts in all three games without Tendulkar - Levi scoring 0, 3 and 29 and Ambati Rayudu (1) and T Suman (5 & 10) not really taking off, though the Mumbai Indians have won two of the three games.

Firing squad
At the other end, the net bowlers who lined up to bowl to the Daredevils batsmen would have been disheartened after seeing the explosive batsmen they would be bowling to - Virender Sehwag, England's Kevin Pietersen, Kiwi skipper Ross Taylor and his Sri Lanka counterpart Mahela Jayawardene.

And Australia opener David Warner hasn't even joined the team yet.

The opposing bowlers would also be worried at the prospect of having to bowl at these batsmen, although Munaf Patel and Harbhajan Singh have plenty of experience to keep them quiet. Lasith Malinga is nursing a back strain and might not play on Monday.

Planned selections
The Daredevils management is happy that it stayed focussed on one aspect while restructuring a squad that had looked pretty ordinary in the previous season.

"We worked on a simple plan of building an explosive batting line-up. So, we first targetted Kevin (from the Chargers) and then when Ross became available, we were more than happy," said TA Sekar, the team's mentor, who was tasked with re-building the squad. Delhi finished last in the 10-team league last season and it was their batting that had let them down. But in their three games this season, Delhi batsmen have looked comfortable, although skipper Sehwag is yet to hit peak form.

Strong show
The way Pietersen and Jayawardene out-batted defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their backyard would have lifted their confidence ahead of the match against MI.

However, the Daredevils will have a problem of plenty as Taylor has recovered from an arm fracture and Sekar insisted he was too good a player to be left out. This would mean left-arm spinner Roelf van der Merve may have to sit out as only four foreign players can be chosen in the eleven.

"We will look at the overall balance of the team after inspecting the wicket tomorrow," said Sekar.


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