Gibbs and Ojha star in Deccan's win
The Kingsmead crowd was witness to a hard-fought contest between two evenly-matched teams and, after several twists and turns, Deccan Chargers, winners of last year's wooden spoon, clinched a tense battle against Mumbai Indians. Deccan overcame several setbacks - a middle-order collapse, an assault from Sachin Tendulkar and JP Duminy, and a spirited push towards the target from Mumbai's tail - to secure their third straight victory of the tournament.
Deccan's success was set up by valuable contributions from their overseas players, whose failure to fire in unison was a large part of their disappointment last season, and a terrific spell from left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha.
Herschelle Gibbs, who top-scored with 58, Adam Gilchrist and Dwayne Smith provided a high-octane start, one which ensured that Deccan achieved with a defendable target despite an extremely poor finish to the innings. Mumbai, though, were well on course to victory, needing only 85 runs off the last ten overs with nine wickets in hand, before Ojha struck thrice in successive overs to derail the chase. Fidel Edwards, who had bowled a fiery first spell, returned to bowl a crucial penultimate over, conceding only four runs, which left Mumbai with too many to get in the last.
The turning point of the game came in the first over after the tactical time-out in Mumbai's chase. Tendulkar and Duminy had flipped into attack mode after a slow start and plundered 72 runs off the preceding seven overs before the break to put Mumbai on top. However Tendulkar, who had expressed his reservations about the seven-and-a-half minute interruption, mis-hit an inside-out shot off Ojha straight to Gibbs in the 11th over and gave Deccan an opening. Ojha widened that opening in his next two overs. He bowled Shikhar Dhawan as he swung across the line and had Duminy caught at deep midwicket by Smith, who covered lots of ground to take a well-judged catch on the run.
Mumbai had slipped from 86 for 1 to 92 for 4 but they weren't giving up. In Abhishek Nayar and Dwayne Bravo, they had two clean strikers and both made crisp starts before they were dismissed by Edwards, effectively ending Mumbai's challenge.
Deccan needed their bowlers' to raise their performance because their batsmen had fallen several runs short of the total that was in sight when Gilchrist and Gibbs got going. Gilchrist took four balls to get his eye in against Lasith Malinga before lofting the fast bowler over the long-on boundary. He hit two more sixes, one an outside edge over third-man off Zaheer Khan and the other a thunderous hit over deep midwicket off Bravo. Gibbs showed good touch by charging Zaheer and clubbing him past mid-off. He allowed Gilchrist to take the risks and after the left-hander was caught behind off Bravo for 35 off 20 balls, Deccan sent Smith in at No. 3 to keep the momentum going.
Deccan were 88 for 1 after 10 overs and the acceleration came two overs later when Dhawal Kulkarni was introduced into the attack. Gibbs smashed him for six over square leg and sliced him behind point while Smith launched him over midwicket to take 18 runs of the over. Jayasuriya, however, made the vital breakthrough, dismissing Smith for 35 off 22 balls, and began Mumbai's fightback.
Mumbai's experienced bowling attack seized the opportunity - Malinga picked up 3 for 19 with searing yorkers - and ensured that Deccan managed only 43 runs off the last seven overs for the loss of seven wickets. However, Deccan had already given their bowlers a target which they were able to defend.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo