The Delhi Capitals will look to bounce back after a blip in the last match, but the struggling Mumbai Indians unit hopes to continue their new momentum in the first IPL double headers here on Saturday.
All-round Kolkata Knight Riders won by three wickets with a low score due to the sluggish conditions in Delhi and Sharjah, which virtually closed their playoff berth with eight wins.
Second with 16 points from 11 games, last season’s runners-up goal was in the top-two, giving them two shots to reach the final.
For an all-time light-hearted team, their first defeat in the UAE leg – and three out of 11 matches this season – will be hard to fight against the KKR bowlers who have made full use of the slow surface after selecting Delhi bowling.
The fact that no one in the Rishabh Pant-led Delhi batting line-up was able to hit a six in their allotted 20 overs highlighted how difficult the stroke preparation was.
The mystery spin duo of Sunil Narine and Venkatesh Iyer managed to trap Delhi by just 127/9.
Steve Smith (39 off 34 balls) and Pant (39 off 36 balls) were the only batsmen to replace the injured Prithviraj Shah, while their lower middle order scored just 13 runs.
However, bats ting is a hindrance for Delhi batsmen, who have excelled so far in batting.
It may take longer for their seam-bowling all-rounder Marcus Stoinis (hamstring) to return.
With the sluggish situation, DC’s spin trio will see Ravichandran Ashwin, Akshar Patel and Lalit Yadav intervene.
Mumbai, on the other hand, look to continue in the race after their first win from four matches in the second phase of the IPL.
With Surya Kumar Yadav not in terrible form with scores of 0, 8, 5, 3 in the UAE leg, setting a record as a five-time IPL champion has given a big boost to batting.
Star openers Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock were also unable to change their start, putting pressure on the middle order.
The silver lining for the IPL heavyweights was a troubled middle order, with Saurabh Tiwary (45) and Hardik Pandya (40) winning by six wickets over the Punjab Kings.
Big hitter Kieran Pollard also appeared in the groove with 15 not out off seven balls to play the role of finisher.
Hitting Tiwary with determination means he will retain his place and it remains to be seen whether Ishant Kishan, who is out of Sharma form, will get another chance.
In bowling, Jaspreet Bumra delivered consistently, returning with 10 wickets so far in the UAE leg, at one point the MI spin bowling flop.
It remains to be seen how they, like Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya, will count on conditions that will help slow bowlers.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar was unimpressive in the UAE leg and was able to take just two wickets from four matches, while left-arm spinner Krunal took just one wicket.
Mumbai Indians Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain) Quinton de Kock, Ishant Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, James Neesham, Jayant Yadav, Kiro , Yudhveer Singh, Adam Milne, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaspreet Bumra, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Rahul Chahar and Trent Boult.
Delhi Capitals Squad: Rishabh Pant (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Prithviraj Shah, Ripal Patel, Shikhar Dhawan, Shimrom Hetmire, Shreyas Iyer, Steve Smith, Amit Mishra, Anrich Northze, Avesh Khan, Ben Dwarsh, Ishant Sharma, Kagilova, Kagilova Dubey, Tom Curran, Umesh Yadav, Akshar Patel, Lalit Yadav, Marcus Stoinis, Ravichandran Ashwin, Sam Billings and Vishnu Vinod.