Race for semi-finals get tougher as Delhi take on Mumbai

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New Delhi, May 23 (UNI) In a bid to grab a semi-final spot, the Delhi Daredevils, who have been marred by the unseasonal rain, will take on a buoyant Mumbai Indians in a do-or-die encounter of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at Feroz Shah Kotla ground here tomorrow.

With only one game remaining, the Daredevils will have their task cut out while Sachin Tendulkar led Mumbai Indians will look to seal a semi-final berth by another win over the hosts.

Delhi's previous two matches at home did not bring any luck for them as Kings XI Punjab beat them under Duckworth-Lewis system while their next match against Kolkata Knight Riders had to be called off without a single ball being bowled.

The Mumbai Indians, who came out as a resurgent force after six consecutive wins, were finally haulted by none other than second placed Kings XI Punjab but still the visitors will be on a high after their spirited run-chase at home.

The abandoned match at home against Knight Riders did not help the hosts but has atleast made things clearer for them.

The Virender Sehwag led Delhi team now does not have to worry about the run-rate but just needs to post a win and then wait for Mumbai Indians' next two matches to see if Tendulkar's boys win or lose.

Three consecutive losses from here on for Mumbai will throw them out of the reckoning while the Daredevils will move into the knock out stage.

But things might get more confusing to analyse if Delhi's weather continue to behave the way it has in the last four days.

If weather conditions are kept aside, the battle is expected to be a grueling one with both Delhi and Mumbai looking even at this stage.

In Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, Delhi has the most potent opening combination and both the batsmen have even proved it in the tournament. So far Gambhir with 504 runs is the highest run-getter in the tournament while Sehwag has 385 to his name.

On the other hand, Mumbai Indians also have two batting stalwarts in Sri Lanka's Sanath Jayasurya and master blaster Sachin Tendulkar who will open the batting for the visitors tomorrow.

While Jayasurya, on his day, can tear apart any attack, Sehwag's ability make him as dangerous as the Lankan left-hander.

The left-handed Gambhir has emerged one of the most consistent batsmen in Twenty20 cricket and has been a run machine for Daredevils in the tournament. Whereas, Tendulkar, who found it tough in the first few games, is too great a player to be kept away from scoring runs for a long time.

The Mumbai Indians' captain had almost won his side the match against Kings XI Punjab but an unfortunate indecision with Robin Uthappa brought his dismissal.

Two of the world's greatest fast bowlers will start the bowling proceedings for either sides. Daredevils have been benefited by the presence of former Australian spearhead Glen McGrath who has given almost nothing away in his opening overs.

Retired South African Shaun Pollock is also a proven athlete and the Sehwag-Gambhir duo will have a tough job at hand to negotiate his nagging line and length.

So, there is not much to separate between the two sides but still the game has to be played and that would only be possible if the rain does not play a spoilsport.

Teams: Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, AB de Villiers, Dinesh Karthick (wk), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Farveez Maharoof, Rajat Bhatia, Amit Mishra, Yo Mahesh, Glenn McGrath.

Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Uthappa, Dominic Thornley, Dwayne Smith, Shaun Pollock, Abhishek Nayar, Pinal Shah (wk), Siddharth Chitnis, Dilhara Fernando, Ashish Nehra, Vikrant Yeligati.

UNI RAR AB KN1208

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