Mumbai:Rampaging Delhi Daredevils, who have shot to the top of the table and are firing on all cylinders, take on the wobbly Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League clash at the D Y Patil Stadium on Sunday in hot and humid conditions.
The home team has sorely missed its captain and injured icon player Sachin Tendulkar in their first five matches and the none-too-encouraging news is the master batsman is still not feeling 100 per cent fit.
A lot hinges on Tendulkar's availability for the tie if Mumbai Indians are to stun the high-flying Delhi outfit captained by another icon player in the Twenty20 League, Virender Sehwag.
Tendulkar played his first match on Friday, albeit against a team made up of his own teammates, after more than a month and fielded for the whole of the opposition's 20-over innings and also batted.
He is to take a final call on whether he is fit to play the match only on Sunday and the hosts are hoping fervently he's available to play his first competitive game since turning our for India against South Africa in the first Test at Chennai in March-end.
In his absence, the team has struggled to put together decent totals on board and strike at opportune times to put the opposition under pressure. The end result is that Mumbai Indians, for which Reliance Industries had paid the highest auction amount among all eight teams, are currently placed seventh.
Only a marginally superior net run-rate is keeping them above cellar team Bangalore Royal Challengers.
The batting has flopped by and large, shown by the fact that Robin Uthappa who is yet to make a half-century is the leading scorer for the team with 155 runs to his credit.
The coming to form of West Indian all rounder Dwayne Bravo in their previous tie at Kolkata could not have happened at a more opportune time for the beleaguered team's confidence.
But other top-notch international stars like Sanath Jayasuriya, bought for a little less than a million dollars, has flattered only to deceive at the top order. Stand-in captain Shaun Pollock, already retired from international cricket, has tried his level best without much success to keep the team going.
The booting out of the performing Harbhajan Singh from the tournament has left the team short on spin skills too and it has been left to the vastly experienced Jayasuriya to lead the slow bowling attack with his crafty left-arm spin.
With the youngsters in the team failing, barring the spunky all-rounder Abhishek Nair, the team has scored only one victory in five ties, against Kolkata Knight Riders, which should galvanise it to take on the well-balanced Delhi outfit.
Delhi, on the other hand, have their top-order functioning like a well-oiled machine with Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan all coming good.
They have a sound middle order too with the likes of Rajat Bhatia and Mithun Manhas, two stout-hearted performers in domestic cricket which has won Delhi the Ranji Trophy earlier this season, having enough power in their tanks to bail out the team if the top order fails to get going.
The joining of South African batsman AB de Villiers, who cracked a superb double hundred against India at Ahmedabad in the second Test won by the visitors last month, and Pakistan captain Shaoib Malik has added meat to the already strong batting line-up.
The pace attack is top-class with Australian great Glenn McGrath, a largely unwanted man at the auction despite his fabulous record in international cricket, and the highly talented Pakistani Mohammad Asif spearheading it to a nicety.
Added to this fabulous duo are Sri Lankan Farvez Maharoof, a genuine swing bowler, home grown left-arm bowler Pradeep Sangwan and Tamil Nadu's V Yomahesh, who add variety to the strong pace attack.
The only area where the team seems to be lacking is in slow bowling, especially after Daniel Vettori left the side for national duty, with Sehwag looking by far to be their best bet with his wily off spinners.
Another factor that could play a big role is the intense heat and humidity as the match is to be played from 4 pm, the first in Mumbai after two night games on April 20 and 27, against Bangalore and Deccan Chargers of Hyderabad.
All in all, Delhi Daredevils seem to be carrying too much firepower for the comfort of Mumbai Indians even in a Twenty20 clash and are firm favourites.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (Captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Luke Ronchi (wk), Ajinkya Rahane, Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Bravo, Shaun Pollock, Loots Bosman, Dominic Thornely, Manish Pandey, Abhishek Nayar, Ashish Nehra, Aniket Chavan, Siddharth Chitnis, Gaurav Dhiman, Dilhara Fernando, Musavir Khote, Dhawal Kulkarni, Rajesh Pawar, Saurabh Tiwary, Ashwell Prince, Rohan Raje, Pinal Shah (wk), Swapnil Singh, Yogesh Takawale (wk) and Vikrant Yeligati.
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (Captain), Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, AB de Villiers, Shoaib Malik, Rajat Bhatia, Mithun Manhas, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Farvez Maharoof, V Yomahesh, Glenn McGrath, Mohd Asif, Manoj Tiwary, Mayank Tehlan, Tilekartne Dilshan, Brett Geeves, Amit Mishra, Yogesh Nagar and Tejashwi Yadav.