The visiting team is in a new avatar, having changed not only the logo and the team jerseys, and the owners, but even the title of the franchisee itself.
The home team has been dealing with the lack of availability of overseas quickies even before it kicks off its quest to regain the title.
Despite all of it, with the World Cup build-up set to prevail in IPL-12, Sunday’s match between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals will be closely watched for India’s World Cup-bound cricketers or those on the fringes.
Focus on Pant
Despite the fan-army set to resume its mission to support one of the most popular IPL teams at the Wankhede, the focus will be more on a couple of individuals from Delhi Capitals.
Rishabh Pant, the young wicketkeeper-batsman, has been competing for the reserve ’keeper or batsman’s slot for the World Cup. It will be interesting to see how he copes against an attack led by Jasprit Bumrah, arguably the best speedster in the world across formats.
Besides Pant, Shreyas Iyer — captain of Capitals — will also be eager to get back on the radar. Despite impressing in limited appearances for the Men in Blue almost 18 months ago, Shreyas has inexplicably gone off the radar. A strong show in the IPL will help him stake a claim, if not for the squad proper, at least as a back-up batsman for the marquee event.
While Shikhar Dhawan will be hoping to make a statement at the top on his return to Delhi’s den, his young partner Prithvi Shaw will be keen on resurrecting his form.
After recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in Australia, Shaw struggled to fire consistently during Mumbai’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy campaign. The youngster who had a prolonged stint in the nets on Saturday cannot ask for a better stage than his home turf.
Shreyas, along with the Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting, stressed that it was important to stay in the present rather than think about the mega event in England.
Three pacers unavailable
On that front, the home team will have a lot to ponder over its starting line-up. The franchise will be without three pacers at least for the first week, with Lasith Malinga (international and domestic duties), Adam Milne (ruled out of the tournament due to injury) and Jason Behrendoff (on international duty).
Also, with question marks over Hardik’s bowling fitness, Bumrah will have his task cut out against a strong batting line-up with shorter boundaries.
As a result, the onus will be on the batting unit, led by skipper Rohit Sharma who will return to his preferred opener’s slot. If Rohit gets going, MI can hope that the ghosts of a poor start will not haunt it yet another season.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Jason Behrendorff, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Salam, Yuvraj Singh, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav and Quinton de Kock (wicket-keeper).
Delhi Capitals: Colin Ingram, Manjot Karla, Prithvi Shaw, Sherfane Rutherford, Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Amit Mishra, Avesh Khan, Bandaru Ayyappa, Harshal Patel, Ishant Sharma, Kasigo Rabada, Nathu Singh, Sandeep Lamichhane, Trent Boult, Axar Patel, Chris Morris, Colin Munro, Hanuma Vihari, Jalaj Saxena, Keemo Paul, Rahul Tewatia, Ankush Bains and Rishabh Pant.
Match starts at 8 pm.