Rayudu sets up comprehensive win for Mumbai
Mumbai Indians 178 for 5 (Rayudu 55*, Tiwary 44, Ojha 3-26) beat Deccan Chargers 115 (Zaheer 2-10, Harbhajan 2-16, Pollard 2-26, McLaren 2-28) by 63 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary once again outshone a glittering batting line-up to give Mumbai Indians a big total, which their bowlers defended smartly and comprehensively. The two added 65 in 7.4 overs for the fourth wicket to resurrect an innings that threatened to come undone, Rayudu went on to register his second fifty of the tournament and provide Mumbai a big finish.
In three overs, Pragyan Ojha and Rahul Sharma had brought Mumbai down from 53 for 0 to 62 for 3, but Deccan Chargers' fielders and death bowlers refused to play ball, dropping Tiwary twice, and going for 64 in the last five.
By the time Ojha was introduced in the seventh over, Sachin Tendulkar, along with Shikhar Dhawan, had scored quick risk-free runs as if it was everyday business. On a pitch assisting spinners - even Andrew Symonds bowled offbreaks from a long run - the real test would come against spin.
Dhawan stepped out to the first delivery from Ojha, found himself short of the pitch of the ball, and was stumped. In the next over, Rahul got Tendulkar with a slider, perhaps the first time he bowled to the batsman. In the next over, Ojha set Dwayne Bravo up with two big flighted offbreaks, both slow through the air, both teasing him, asking him to play the extravagant flick. The third ball was the quick arm ball, Bravo was slow, and the middle stump was no more.
It seemed that finally Kieron Pollard, yet to announce himself in the IPL, would have to bat in a pressure situation. Tiwary and Rayudu, though, had other ideas. They started off consolidating, and Rayudu's placement meant they didn't stagnate, recovering to 90 in 13 overs.
The 14th over proved to be crucial: Rahul came back for a return spell and should have had Tiwary twice. One of the chances went for a six, parried by Herschelle Gibbs, who was a few yards in from the boundary at long-on. The other, a low one to point, was dropped by Monish Mishra. Between those two deliveries came a hefty slog-sweep for another six. Insult and injury were having a round table.
By then Rayudu was in enough to go for the big hits, seeing Symonds off with a slogged six off the last ball of his spell, moving to 25 off 17, and taking Mumbai to 125 in 16 overs.
The next four overs were to be vital: Deccan, the worst of the teams at the death, needed a good finish to keep the match interesting. If Ojha tilted the endplay Deccan's way by removing Tiwary, Rayudu responded by hitting immediate back-to-back boundaries to restore balance. It would all go downhill for Deccan.
Ryan Harris managed to keep them quiet with a nine-run 18th over, but in the 19th Rayudu punished Jaskaran Singh. A full toss and a length delivery were dismissed for fours before the shot of the innings, an inside-out six that brought up his fifty. Twenty came off that over, and Pollard hustled through for three couples and two boundaries in Harris' last over.
Although Gibbs managed to hit Harbhajan Singh for two fours in the first over of the chase and Adam Gilchrist took only the second six of the tournament off Lasith Malinga's bowling, Deccan's chase never got going. Gibbs was unsettled by the changes of pace from Malinga, and it resulted in a wild shot to the first ball Zaheer Khan bowled. VVS Laxman failed again, stalling the momentum, and by the time Gilchrist was bowled when slogging Zaheer, Deccan were 40 for 3 in 6.1 overs.
Symonds and Rohit Sharma were left with the unenviable task of bringing Deccan back against a varied and accomplished attack, but neither of them could break free. Thirty-five came in the next 5.4 overs that consumed both of them - Rohit to a smart return catch by Pollard and Symonds to an ambitious cut - and signalled an early end to any contest in the match.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo