Mumbai Indians go in to Tuesday’s 2020 Indian Premier League Final as the favourites to claim a fifth franchise crown but Delhi Capitals cannot be underestimated as they chase their first.
There’s a lot of peculiarities about Tuesday’s decider, namely the venue being Dubai International Cricket Stadium with no fans in attendance, while there’s the timing of the game in mid-November in the early part of the Emirati winter.
This is distinctly different compared to all previous 12 IPL Finals, which have all been played in India in May or June, in the summer or pre-monsoon season. The relevance is the importance of winning the toss, given the impact of the dew.
Mumbai may be the team to beat in 2020, having finished clear on top of the standings and having also defeated Delhi Capitals three times, including last week’s Qualifier 1, but this has been a very weird year. Anything is possible.
Tuesday will mark Delhi’s first-ever appearance in an IPL final, having come third last year. As the Daredevils, they also made the semis in the opening two years of the IPL and finished third in 2012, but otherwise they’ve had limited success.
Mumbai’s track record is far more decorated, lifting the title in four of the past seven IPL seasons. They’ve never finished last and they’ve made the play-offs in nine editions, which is a record only bettered by MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings.
Focusing on this year’s sides, Mumbai have few weaknesses, boasting an exceptional top order led by Quinton de Kock (483 runs at 37.15) and Rohit Sharma who is back from injury. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav have supported them brilliantly, while there’s danger with Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya.
That may be impressive but their pace attack has been superb, with Jasprit Bumrah (27 wickets) and Trent Boult (22 wickets) sitting second and third for most wickets this season. James Pattinson was good too, but has lost his spot to Nathan Coulter-Nile, in arguably the only weak point in the side.
Delhi’s strength is similarly diverse, with Kagiso Rabada topping the wicket-takers charts with 29 scalps including four in their last game, while Anrich Nortje has bowled extremely quick with devastating effect. Ravi Ashwin has supported them well too, along with all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.
Stoinis has had his moments with the bat, but it’s been Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order who’s held the key, posting two hundreds and four half-centuries this season, including an important 78 in the Qualifier 2 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Captain Shreyas Iyer is a steady hand with the bat while wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant has been hit-and-miss this season but looms as a big-game player along with Stoinis who was elevated to open against Sunrisers to good effect.
Mumbai finished top of the table with a 9-5 record, even affording to lose their final regular season game, before knocking off Delhi in the opening play-off.
The Indians actually dropped two of their first three games but since has managed to win nine from 12 games to be the form side of the IPL.
Delhi’s form line is quite the opposite; winning five of their first six games to set up their campaign before wavering through the middle, when they lost five of seven games.
That unsteady patch appeared set to see them miss the play-offs but they produced a clutch final round win over Royal Challengers Bangalore to secure second spot, before losing to Mumbai in Qualifier 1 and beating Sunrisers in Qualifier 2 to reach the final.
There’s a temptation to lean towards Delhi, but that wouldn’t be backed up by evidence. Mumbai’s 2020 campaign has been tremendous and there’s so few weaknesses in their side that if anyone has an off-day, another player will cover it.
Delhi’s mantra in the lead-up to the Final has been if they play at their best, they’ll win, but the reality is it’d take a very poor Mumbai day for them not to win. Odds are that won’t happen. Mumbai is my prediction.