If we put away the SRH disappointment, Mumbai have won five of their last eight matches, and nine out of 14. On the other hand, Delhi suffered setbacks in four consecutive matches before a triumph against Royal Challengers Bangalore helped them seal a play-offs berth. This is the second consecutive year they have made the second round, which is a significant improvement on previous editions. Mumbai, in contrast, are play-off veterans having lifted the title a record four times, including last year.
The advantage of finishing in the top two means the loser of Qualifier 1 will get another shot at a place in the finals. But, both Mumbai and Delhi will be keen to win Thursday’s contest and secure their place. Apart from history, Mumbai have an advantage over Delhi in terms of team balance, quality and experience as well. Delhi will thus need to figure out a way to get past Mumbai, and somehow outsmart them.
Rohit Sharma’s return to the playing XI against SRH amid his injury controversy raised many eyebrows. It remains to be seen if he risks his hamstring on Thursday. That apart, there are really no worries for MI, unless of course, things go wrong on the field. Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya form as formidable a batting order as one can get. In the bowling, Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult have been exceptional, with Rahul Chahar adeptly handling the spin department.
For Delhi Capitals, Shikhar Dhawan returned to form after a lull against RCB. But, he needs to maintain his consistency. Ajinkya Rahane too came up with a much-needed half-century. A lot more will be expected from skipper Shreyas Iyer and wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant. Among the bowlers, a lot would depend on how Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje perform. Ravichandran Ashwin was said to be carrying a hamstring injury in the game against RCB. So, his fitness would be a concern.
Head-to-Head Record: From 26 games, Mumbai have a 14-12 win-loss record against Delhi.
MI Predicted XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, Kieron Pollard (capt), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, James Pattinson, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah
Delhi Capitals XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Prithvi Shaw, Ajinkya Rahane, Shreyas Iyer (capt), Rishabh Pant (wk), Marcus Stoinis, Axar Patel, Kagiso Rabada, R Ashwin, Daniel Sams, Anrich Nortje
The Dubai pitch has been good for batting of late. With now dew, there is no disadvantage for the team bowling second. So winning or losing toss shouldn’t matter much.
The temperature is expected to be cool, in the mid to high 20s