In a tournament as hectic as the IPL, a couple of days break from playing matches is as refreshing as it gets.
It gives the players time to recover from the grind they put their bodies through, and allows them to review strategies and relax.
That is exactly the kind of situation that Team Mumbai and Team Delhi find themselves in ahead of their clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday evening.
There’s a lot to look forward to: Sehwag versus Malinga, Morkel versus Levi, Pathan versus Pollard, and if Sachin Tendulkar plays, a certain bonus added to the package. With four days of rest for each team, these players should be rejuvenated enough to bring about some excitement.
Tendulkar had a very light nets session with the team on Saturday and made it slightly strenuous for himself on Sunday evening. The Team Mumbai support staff kept throwing balls at him and he kept knocking for close to 30 minutes.
That, however, does not confirm his availability for Monday’s match and the team management will take a call on whether Tendulkar plays or not only on Monday.
Till then, of course, the onus is on the rest of the big names from both franchises to make the stage their own. It’s a big match indeed, despite it not having any do-or-die tag attached to it.
It’s big because the Mumbai-Delhi rivalry is big and also because there are some marquee cricketers on both sides who can make the evening very entertaining.
Delhi is easily the most improved team in the tournament this year, especially after going through a very ordinary 2011 where lack of enough arsenal in the middle-order kept troubling them throughout.
Bringing in Kevin Pietersen from Hyderabad, promoting Irfan Pathan up the order and allowing the onus to remain on young Indian players in the squad has pepped up the franchise’s overall appeal this season.
Mumbai, on the other hand, are once again a title favourite, which in turn would mean favourites for Monday’s game too. And rightly so. A strong top-order, some very aggressive batsmen to follow, a couple of useful all-rounders, a good wicket-keeper-batsman and one of the tournament’s best attacks – Team Mumbai have it all.
The fact that Tendulkar’s absence in the playing eleven hasn’t been discussed and dissected again and again is a sign that the team’s overall balance has remained unaffected.
Keeping the dew factor in mind, Delhi could bring Kiwi pacer Doug Bracewell into play, at the cost of Roelof Van Der Merwe but Mumbai will announce a change in the eleven only if Tendulkar plays.