Despite all the chaos, drama and number crunching that ensued in the last couple of weeks, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals finished as the top teams on the points table, much like they were expected to at the half-way mark of the tournament. But given how the events unfolded, the vulnerabilities of even the best teams in the competition were exposed. But in Qualifier 1, the stakes are simple – you win and reserve a seat for the final. Even though there is a buffer of one loss, it’s not a route any team would like to take.
Delhi Capitals faltered more than Mumbai Indians did on their way to the playoffs. A few players were injured, several went through a loss of form and some couldn’t adapt well enough to the unpredictable nature of the conditions. After their third defeat, they had maintained that there was no need to panic and the focus had to be on the process. However, after a fourth defeat on the trot, they found the need to make changes to the plans and the approach. And even as the Capitals ended their victory drought, questions still linger over the potency of their batting line-up, and especially the inability of the openers to provide strong starts.
Mumbai Indians had it easier, being able to afford the luxury of resting their prime fast bowlers in the last league game. Even though it was an inconsequential match for them, it remains to be seen if their “worst performance of the season” will have its after-effects on the team in a game with a turnaround time of less than 48 hours. Despite their commanding show this season, Dubai has been the venue where MI have had the least success, winning only one out of their three games. The good news though, apart from the fact that both their losses were in the Super Overs, is that the one victory was a comprehensive one against Delhi. In fact Mumbai are the one of only two teams against whom Delhi hasn’t won a game this season.
Delhi, after a good start, have struggled by the sluggish nature of the wicket and the unpredictability over dew coming into play has left them clueless with their plans. So much so that they are happier losing the toss. The inclusion of Daniel Sams, though, helps them cover that aspect with the ball and enables them to field possibly the best bowling attack in the competition. Much like Mumbai Indians, all their players have had an impact at some point or the other in the tournament, ensuring that the reliance isn’t too heavy on certain players. What, however, remains to be seen is whether they can all turn up together on the day to ensure a complete performance.