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Monday, November 30, 2020

Explained: Ahead of the big IPL 2020 final, some ifs and a few buts

IPL 2020 final preview: What are the changes Delhi Capitals can make in the game later this evening? In contrast to the settled Mumbai team, they have several questions on composition and strategy.

Written by Sriram Veera , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai | November 10, 2020 2:56:13 pm
ipl, ipl live score, ipl final, ipl 2020, live ipl, mi vs dc, mi vs dc 2020, ipl 2020 live cricket score, mi vs dc live cricket score, mi vs dc live streamingRohit Sharma and Shreyas Iyer with the IPL trophy.

Mumbai Indians appear to be favourites going into the game as they ended on top of the table during the league phase, entered the final directly by winning Qualifier 1, and have already beaten Delhi Capitals three times this season.

Delhi started the season in impressive fashion before stuttering at the end, and eventually doing just enough to progress. Often, they have been left unsure about their best playing eleven. They need to make some crucial decisions ahead of the game.

Will Delhi Capitals open with Marcus Stoinis?

Although the team management, and head coach Ricky Ponting, know what destruction Marcus Stoinis can wreak as an opener based on his exploits in the Big Bash League, they weren’t too eager to promote him as they don’t have another big hitter down the order.

Shimron Hetmyer has not been consistent enough, and Rishabh Pant has been too subdued. They hoped Prithvi Shaw can do the job up front, but he’s likely to be a walking wicket against Trent Boult.

In an ideal world, the management would like Stoinis to float as a destructor in the end or middle overs as per the demands of the game.

Stoinis succeeded against Sunrisers Hyderabad, who mainly had medium pacers, but Boult, Jasprit Bumrah and leg-spinner Rahul Chahar will be a different proposition. If Stoinis is dismissed early, Delhi will be bereft of firepower at the top and bottom.

ipl, ipl live score, ipl final, ipl 2020, live ipl, mi vs dc, mi vs dc 2020, ipl 2020 live cricket score, mi vs dc live cricket score, mi vs dc live streaming IPL 2020 final: Delhi Capitals players after defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 17 runs during Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match, at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)

Will Delhi Capitals go with the safe option in Ajinkya Rahane?

The India Test captain has had one decent outing at No. 3 the whole season, when they were chasing a modest total against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Rahane spent the initial part of the campaign on the bench and couldn’t do much when called upon. He may be short of confidence and firepower, but the think tank may think he has a role to play in a certain situation.

His technique may be relied upon as an anchor. He can steady the ship if an early wicket falls or if they are chasing a modest total where he can provide solidity. But if the openers get off to a great start, Rahane can be largely redundant. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

IPL 2020 final: Can Shreyas Iyer rise to the occasion?

With the skipper’s form tapering off, Delhi’s middle order doesn’t look so solid now. Iyer’s sluggish approach in Qualifier 2 betrayed his lack of rhythm. His 20-ball 21 was everything the team didn’t need at that stage. Whether he stays at No. 3 or slides down the order will largely depend on the match situation.

Also read | Do mighty Mumbai Indians, IPL defending champs, have a weakness?

The Rishabh Pant conundrum

Rishabh Pant has had a strange season and seems to have gone off the boil. Gone is the free-scoring and big-hitting left-hander, and in his place, there is a batsman trying too hard to play the anchor role, unsuitable for him at this stage of his development.

The bowlers have stopped bowling at his stumps, preferring to bowl outside off, out of his hitting range, and Pant has struggled big time. He is one batsman who has taken down Bumrah in the past, and Delhi will hope he regains his clarity of thought just in time.

ipl, ipl live score, ipl final, ipl 2020, live ipl, mi vs dc, mi vs dc 2020, ipl 2020 live cricket score, mi vs dc live cricket score, mi vs dc live streaming IPL 2020 final: Mumbai Indians (MI) players Rahul Chahar and Nathan Coulter-Nile celebrate after winning the match against Delhi Capitals during the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20, at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai, Saturday, Oct. 31, 2020. (PTI Photo/Sportzpics for BCCI)

Is Ashwin’s shoulder hindering him?

R Ashwin got some treatment on his shoulder from the physio before Delhi took the field against Sunrisers. By the time he returned for the end overs after bowling a solitary over with the new ball, he dealt only in carrom balls. Another off-spinner, Graeme Swann, wondered in commentary whether Ashwin’s injury was preventing him from bowling regular off-breaks.

Barring a couple of games, Ashwin has been bowling like a dream in this tournament, showing great game awareness with skills to match. He was effective against hitters like David Warner and Chris Gayle, and has troubled all top batsmen including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. Delhi will sweat on his fitness, though.

Also in Explained: Should a misfiring Rohit Sharma open the innings for Mumbai Indians in the IPL final?

Will Delhi Capitals’ Axar Patel come to the party?

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel is a veteran now and has had a very good tournament thus far. But it seems Iyer doesn’t have unshakeable confidence in him. He has often not bowled him against two left-handers, even though the bowler has held his own against some top players this season.

Delhi have rookie leg-spinner Praveen Dubey in their ranks, but it remains to be seen whether they go with him in a final against Mumbai, who have three left-handers in their line-up.

What if Rabada has an off-day?

So much has revolved around their talisman bowler Rabada that Delhi can’t afford a bad day from him. That’s exactly what happened in Qualifier 1 when Ishan Kishan and Hardik Pandya took to him at the death. On the other side, it was his dismissal of David Warner that allowed Delhi to seize the day on Sunday.

Rabada has the cricketing intelligence and skill-set to trouble Mumbai but has also spoken about fatigue and being “mentally and physically tired” at the end of the last game. Delhi will hope that there is enough gas in the tank for one last big performance from the man with the Purple Cap. His pairing with Anrich Nortje will go a long way in deciding whether Capitals can keep a marauding batting order in check.

Daniel Sams in or out?

Daniel Sams was drafted in to provide the left-arm seam variety, but has been inconsistent. With his lack of pace, he is easily targeted in the end overs. He hasn’t got too many wickets either. Whether Delhi continue with him or bring a third spinner or rely on Stoinis to jo a job will be a big call.

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