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IPL 2018: Mumbai Indians face ousted Delhi Daredevils, hope playoff jigsaw falls into place

Holders Mumbai Indians have the best net run rate and will hope a good win over eliminated Delhi Daredevils is enough to enter the playoffs of IPL 2018.

cricket Updated: May 19, 2018 18:42 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
IPL 2018,Mumbai Indians,Delhi Daredevils
Mumbai Indians face Delhi Daredevils in a must-win contest of the Indian Premier League at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Sunday.(AFP)

Holders Mumbai Indians will know before Sunday’s final Indian Premier League preliminary round clash against eliminated Delhi Daredevils what should be their victory margin to squeeze into the playoffs.

The worst case scenario will still leave three teams scrambling for the last playoff spot, considering four teams got to their final league game with only 12 points.

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However, holding a mathematical chance --- MI have the best net run rate among the four teams with 12 points ahead of Saturday’s games --- to go through may not be a big advantage for Rohit Sharma’s side at the end of a topsy-turvy IPL 2018 campaign.

Delhi Daredevils is the only team well and truly out of the race going into their final league game. But as they showed in an impressive win over Chennai Super Kings on Friday, playing for pride can be as big a motivation and that can trip up Mumbai Indians at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground.

Mumbai Indians, the only team to have won three IPL titles, have the reputation of their campaign gathering momentum slowly. And though they have won four of their last five games, their initial string of losses --- two wins in eight games --- have left them hoping against hope.

Delhi Daredevils will end another poor season, and coach Ricky Ponting rushing into the ground on Saturday evening --- only MI were training while the hosts had a break after Friday’s game ---indicated an anxiety to end the campaign on a winning note. DD won at the Wankhede, but that was a month earlier, and it has been pretty much downhill since then.

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For Mumbai Indians, bowlers have done their job this season. Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, brother Hardik, leg spinner Mayank Markande and Kiwi pacer Mitch McClenaghan have all been impressive.

However, their batsmen, barring Suryakumar Yadav --- 500 runs with four 50s --- have been inconsistent. Starting with 2013, Mumbai Indians have won the title every alternate year, and skipper Rohit Sharma’s consistency with the bat, barring IPL 2017, was crucial.

This year, their skipper’s struggles ---- 273 runs in 13 games at an average of 24.81 with two 50s --- has weighed down the thrice champions’ run.

For Delhi Daredevils, despite Kiwi left-arm pacer Trent Boult’s solid performances, batting has been their main strength. And the young trio of Prithvi Shaw, skipper Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will go up against Mumbai’s bowling might.

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With the summer slowing down pitches, teams may be wary of chasing down a target, especially after CSK were caught short on Friday.

First Published: May 19, 2018 18:42 IST