The Indians are on a roll in IPL 2017. Rohit Sharma's side lost their opening game to Rising Pune Supergiant, but that seems light years ago. Five wins on the bounce, a few successful manoeuvres out of tight corner later, and they have confidence, belief and momentum - all so crucial in a tournament like this.
Young guns like Nitish Rana are comimg of age, Jos Buttler has started to produce, Kieron Pollard has looked somewhere near his best and the balance of the side could take them all the way over the next few weeks. Only Kolkata Knight Riders, on current form, would threaten their title credentials. The only fear would be whether they can maintain this standard through to the final.
In contrast, the Daredevils are more hit and miss. On their day, and they've won two of five matches, they have a decent bowling attack and a batting line-up that's gives them a chance. But I'm far from convinced they have what it takes to go deep into the final week.
Chris Morris, the South African all-rounder, has starred with bat and ball. Why the Daredevils don't push him higher up the order to maximise his ability to scamper along at a strike-rate well in excess of 200 is beyond me. His bowling, four wickets in the last game, has also been a key weapon. But their match-winners are few and far between.
The Indians are on fire and Delhi Daredevils don't have a big enough extinguisher. The Wankhede Stadium pitch however, may give Delhi some hope if they win the toss. The team chasing at the Wankhede has won the last seven IPL matches played there. Whoever wins the toss would be a fool not to bowl first. Mumbai have won their last three matches at the ground and I think will win regardless of toss on Saturday. However a safer bet is to back Mumbai if they bat second at [1.7].
First Innings Runs
A par score at the Wankhede ground is around 180. With Mumbai firing on all cylinders I'd be tempted to get adventurous on a high score if they bat first. They cantered to a record chase in their last game, knocking off 198 against Kings XI Punjab with 27 balls to spare. A total in excess of 200 would be well within their compass.
Top Mumbai Indians Batsman
Jos Buttler's 77 off 37 balls against Kings XI Punjab was the first real glimpse in this tournament of what he is capable of. He's too inconsistent to warrant a price slash to 23/10 though. Parthiv Patel (7/2) keeps threatening to go big, but doesn't, and Nitish Rana (3/1) became the leading IPL 2017 run-scorer after another fifty in the last match and has to be considered.
But as the likes of Buttler and Rana shorten in price, Rohit Sharma is now as big as 9/2 in this market and he's too good at that price to ignore.
Top Delhi Daredevils Batsman
Sam Billings, Shreyas Iyer and Karun Nair are too inconsistent to be backed with confidence. Rishabh Pant is a young man on the rise and I can't make a case against him at 5/1 as he's a future India keeper-batsman for sure. But at 3/1 Sanju Samson is the best and most consistent batsman in the side and he'll be attracting my bet.
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James Buttler at IPL 2017