Sensible de Villiers backs up tight bowling
Delhi Daredevils didn't quite pull off the cakewalk expected after their bowlers set the batsmen a target of 117, but the end result was satisfactory because they took back the top spot. Chasing an easily achievable total Delhi's openers ate up overs and departed in succession to put undue pressure on the middle order, but AB de Villiers returned to form and saw Delhi through in the end.
Mumbai Indians needed a win desperately to mark a step towards a much-needed turnaround, but they utterly failed to cash in on the toss. Both openers were dismissed in the first over, two more fell before the end of the Powerplay, and there was no final hurrah. Dwayne Bravo and Abhishek Nayar stitched together a 57-run partnership but that too was snuffed out by Delhi's bowlers before it could really cause damage.
This was a win set up in the field, when Delhi were excellent with pace and spin, allowing just seven boundaries and three sixes. For the 22nd time in 21 days, a wicket fell in the first over of an innings. Luke Ronchi, in for Sanath Jayasuriya, was run out second ball and JP Duminy nicked Dirk Nannes behind.
Mumbai were hurting with the scoreboard showing four batsmen with 0 next to their names. Sachin Tendulkar, who had opted to bat, didn't last long either. Having inside-edged a length ball behind the stumps, Tendulkar set off, only to be set back by Pinal Shah. He failed to just ground his bat as Dinesh Karthik nailed the second damning direct hit in six overs. Mumbai were 30 for 3 after the Powerplay.
It got worse. Shah failed to cash in on a drop on 5, swinging Rajat Bhatia to the deep for a chalky 11 from 20 balls. In walked Bravo at 33 for 4. He looked gone for all money on 1, struck on the front pad in front of middle and leg, but the umpire Marais Erasmus was watching a different match. Amit Mishra cut a flustered figure.
There were just two boundaries littering the first ten overs, aptly displaying just how tight Delhi kept it. With singles and doubles and inside edges Bravo and Nayar gave the total some respectability. But just when it seemed Bravo might turn it on - he lofted two big sixes down the ground - Nannes got his man with a wide delivery. Nayar departed next ball, top-edging Ashish Nehra, and there was little oomph from the tail. Bhatia, notable for his clever slower balls, took two wickets and allowed only a single and a leg bye in the last over. It was eerily similar to how Delhi had started 19 overs earlier.
Delhi's chase toward a small target was nervy, with Gautam Gambhir and David Warner pacing themselves. It wasn't a crawl, but neither was the pair forcing the issue. There were only two fours and a six in the 50 balls Gambhir and Warner batted together. Duminy snapped a steady partnership of 42 with a gentle offbreak, luring Warner out of his crease. In the next over Gambhir sashayed out and sliced the ball to deep cover. But that was as good as it got for Mumbai, as de Villiers and Tillakaratne Dilshan eased into a 61-run stand.
It began slowly, with both batsmen struggling to get runs off the spinners. Duminy and Harbhajan Singh rushed through their overs, one relying on flight and the other firing them flat. Duminy only gave 15 from his four overs and Harbhajan was also frugal, but one over of pedestrian spin from Tendulkar got Delhi - at this stage needing 43 from 30 - back ahead of the rate. A floater was sumptuously clipped for four, a full toss was dumped over midwicket for six, and two half-trackers were duly deposited for boundaries. In six balls de Villiers doubled his score. Defending a small total, a 19-run over was not what Mumbai needed from their leader.
Dilshan fell with ten needed, but de Villiers brought up his fifty and ensured victory was sealed with seven balls to go.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo