Two teams with very similar seasons clash as the Delhi Capitals host the Mumbai Indians at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Thursday.

Both the Indians and the Capitals are in good form, and sit pretty at the top half of the table, with 10 points from 8 games. While Delhi are on a 3-game winning streak, Mumbai have won 4 of their last 5. It is sure to be an exciting affair that will definitely give the winner a huge boost in their bid to make the playoffs. The two teams had last met in the initial round this season, with Delhi riding on Rishabh Pant’s blistering 78 to post a total well beyond the reach of Mumbai.

Both teams have carried on well since then, and have attained some solidity in the team composition and in their key players. Delhi have been a fairly well-oiled machine, disciplined with both bat and ball, with key players rising to the occasion. Captain Shreyas Iyer has been the pivot in their batting lineup, well-supported by the likes of Pant, Shikhar Dhawan and Prithvi Shaw, all of whom have played some match-winning knocks. The bowling has shone, with Purple Cap-holder Kagiso Rabada spearheading an ably-functioning pace battery. Mumbai Indians, meanwhile have fared similarly, depending on Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma’s opening stand to pave way for the big-hitters like Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard. Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga and Jason Behrendorff would be the key bowlers for the Indians.

Here are some key player battles to look out for in this match.

Hardik Pandya vs Kagiso Rabada

Mumbai’s batting strategy has been pretty clear this IPL. They bank on their top order, especially openers de Kock and Rohit to provide them a platform. Then Hardik Pandya comes in late to demolish the bowling attack in the final overs. It has worked fairly well for them, with the all-rounder scoring 186 runs in 8 games at a bludgeoning strike rate of over 191. However, getting those big hits away will be difficult against the Delhi lineup, who have been excellent in their death bowling, headed by their key threat, Kagiso Rabada. The South African has 17 wickets in 8 games at an average of 14.05 and has kept things tight at the death with an economy of 7.7. He would hope to get Hardik out in the death, before tearing into the lower order as only he can. This will be an exciting battle between two key players.

Also Read: The Fantasy Guide for this match

Shreyas Iyer vs Lasith Malinga

Shreyas Iyer has led from the front, no other way to go about it. The young captain has been impressive, showing a calm head at the crease and in the field, and is the Capitals’ leading run scorer with 266 runs in 8 games, crossing the 40-run mark multiple times. However, he will have his work cut out as he prepares to face one of T20 cricket’s legends in Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan pacer has been in incredible form in the twilight of his career, picking up 7 wickets in 4 games, including a four-for in his last outing against RCB. Though he has been a tad expensive, Malinga’s wicket-taking skills are unquestionable. He would look to add the Delhi skipper to his list of scalps, setting the stage for an interesting player battle.

Rishabh Pant vs Jasprit Bumrah

This is, in all fairness, a mirror image of the first player battle listed. Rishabh Pant has the ability to launch a blitzkrieg on the opposing bowling attack in the later stages of the game, as he showed even in the last encounter between the team. The keeper-batsman has scored 245 runs in 8 games at a superb strike rate of 161. However, he will be up against one of the best bowlers in the world at the death in Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah has been decently impressive this IPL, with 8 wickets in as many games. He has been exceptionally economical at the death though, underlined by his economy rate of 6.81. Pant would find it difficult to hit Bumrah’s yorkers out of the park, and the pacer will bank on his variations to draw a dismissal out of the Delhi batsman. A mouthwatering prospect in the form of a key player battle.

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