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It’s a clash of titans: Sachin vs Viru

Fireworks are on cards when Delhi host Mumbai at Ferozshah Kotla in their IPL fixture on Wednesday.

By Jaideep Ghosh

The stakes just went up for the Delhi boys. With Chennai stopping Kolkata and the points table suddenly reflecting a disturbing familiarity, a claustrophobic crowding at the top of the list, handing Mumbai a win in their contest on Wednesday would really make it distressingly disturbing.

Not that it seems to ever bother Virender Sehwag. He will do his thing, irrespective of what the situation is. But the same does not apply to Gautam Gambhir. The two players’ desire to win may be identical, but somehow the new skipper seems to be so much more obvious about it.

On the other end of the spectrum is Sachin Tendulkar. The perfectionist that he is, he would be smarting under the fact that, despite scoring over 200 runs, his side barely managed to beat the Jaipur outfit. In fact, he was quick to point that he didn’t have the services of Harbhajan Singh when his side struggled to hold back a rampant Yusuf Pathan.

So there you have it — two side with some of the top guns of the world of cricket to wield the willow. Add to that equation the aggressive Harbhajan and between the two sides, we have some of the most potent players in the business.

But all potentials need the right stage, and in Delhi, the concern always seems to be the platform where the duel will be fought — the pitch.

This has been a story with Ferozshah Kotla for a long time indeed. Right from the time when the new stadium came up, there was always this feeling that the main thing on the agenda, the square, had been ignored for cosmetic and more obvious changes. There was a lot of criticism of the pitches during the Champions League T20 tournament, for the low bounce and carry. What happened when they tried to repair it, is now part of history.

Delhi, despite their opening pair doing a lot of damage, would dearly love for the middle-order batsmen to pull their weight. Mithun Manhas got some runs in the first game and was around in the second as well, but the camp would love to see imports AB de Villiers and Tillekeratne Dilshan to show some more form.

The bowling has done phenomenally well, with Dirk Nannes, Pradeep Sangwan and Faraveez Maharoof doing their stuff seam-up whole Amit Mishra and surprise package Sarabjit Ladda also impressed. But all of them would have to be in the best of form if they want to deal with Tendulkar and his young guns.

Young is a bit misleading though, Sanath Jayasuriya and the captain can take any attack apart, but Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwari and Ambati Rayudu adding to the attack, the punch has been impressive as it has been surprising.

The bowling is another story. The fast bowling department, with Zaheer Khan and Lasith Malinga, was good enough to stop the Jaipur team after Pathan went berserk, but the slow bowlers, without Harbhajan, struggled.

Two sides that are carded to be among the best in the tournament would promise a good contest, though it would be too optimistic to expect a high-scoring match. Whatever it is, Twenty20 cricket has its moments. So will this one.

Head to Head

Played: 4

Won by Delhi:
3 (Winning % 75.00)

Won by Mumbai:
1 (Winning % 25.00)

Delhi Daredevils have won the last three games against Mumbai.

Approaching Milestones

– In case, Gautam Gambhir posts a fifty, he would be the first to register 8 fifties in the IPL.

– Sanath Jayasuriya (758) needs 42 runs to complete his 800 runs in the IPL.  He would be the first player for Mumbai to aggregate 800 runs in the IPL.

– In case of a win, Delhi would be the first team to register 20 wins in the IPL.

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