We've been expecting you, Mr Mongoose
In his previous game, Muttiah Muralitharan bowled a top spell against Kolkata Knight Riders, allowing just 16 runs in his four overs while picking up the wicket of Laxmi Shukla. Today his first over went for 12, with Virender Sehwag taking a special liking for his pace and turn: a well executed late cut for four was followed by an even better shot as he gave himself room, in fact exposing all three stumps, and gently and elegantly angled the ball wide of short third man for another boundary. Nothing fazes this man.
Sticking to the basics … and suffering
When bowling at the death, the gospel says "full and straight". Poor Joginder Sharma was precisely that in the 19th over, except that Rajat Bhatia struck successive sixes off him, indicating that there really is no set method in Twenty20. The fourth ball off the over was a full toss, which Bhatia dumped over deep midwicket, and the next was pitched up on the stumps and Bhatia nonchalantly swung it over long-on for the same result. Both Joginder and Bhatia were drafted in for their first game of the season, and their contributions couldn't have been starker: Joginder went for 43 in his four overs and Bhatia larruped a nine-ball 21 that swung the impetus back Delhi's way after Chennai had hit back with big wickets in a clump.
Suspense and suspenders
Who says the first over of a Twenty20 innings can't be full of suspense and action even if there isn't a single wicket or boundary? Sample the first over of Chennai's chase, bowled by Dirk Nannes. First delivery: left alone. Second delivery: pitched and cut back sharply to nearly saw Parthiv Patel in half, Dinesh Karthik fumbled the take as he fell to his right. Third delivery: well outside off stump, Parthiv shouldered arms, a wide was called. Fourth delivery: length ball, tapped in front of square for a quick single. Fifth delivery: pitched on a good length, held its line, and Matthew Hayden didn't offer a shot. You could feel the suspense building up. Sixth delivery: just as Nannes released the ball, Hayden backed out with some issues with vision down the ground. When the ball was finally bowled, he calmly opted to shoulder arms. Was the big hit around the corner, you wondered? Seventh delivery: Hayden mistimed a drive to a full ball, set off, the backward point fielder hit he stumps, the ball ricocheted, and Hayden got a second run.
Ouch and out
Parthiv, into the side because of MS Dhoni's injury, had a muted game. The first ball of the third over, bowled by Nannes, was full, straight and fast, and the yorker thudded into Parthiv's pads. Surprised by the pace and swing, he lost balance and stooped over. Still in a daze, Parthiv set off for a non-existent single, but Hayden waved him back vehemently. It was too late, however, because de Villiers took out the stumps. It seemed Parthiv was still smarting from the yorker that thudded into his foot.
Finally we got to see what all the fuss was about. Hayden swung Pradeep Sangwan away for his fourth boundary and promptly called for Chennai's 12th man to bring out the Mongoose bat. A single and a dot ball later, the Mongoose was on the loose as Hayden tonked three fours and a six in four deliveries. Hayden had roared back into form. The little thing worked well against spin too, as Dilshan found out when his first over went for 21 runs, including three sixes. The bullying continued until Hayden was out for an audacious 93 from 43 balls. It was an auspicious debut.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo