Mumbai's medium-pacers bowled a clever mix of bouncers, slower balls and cutters to restrict Rajasthan to a 103, the lowest first-innings total of the IPL, on a two-paced pitch at the DY Patil Stadium before some sensible batting sealed a hat-trick of triumphs for the home team. In what was their second successive upset victory, after taming Delhi on Sunday, Mumbai prevailed over the table leaders yet again.
The pitch wasn't conducive to stroke-play: balls stopped, kept low and batsmen didn't find their timing easily. The experienced trio of Shaun Pollock, Ashish Nehra and Dwayne Bravo were canny with their variations but it was impressive to see the unheralded duo of Dhaval Kulkarni and Rohan Raje break the back of Rajasthan's line-up.
Sachin Tendulkar wasn't fit for today's game but he had the satisfaction of seeing a wicket fall almost every time the commentators cut to have a word with him. He was particularly thrilled with the performance of Kulkarni and Raje, young turks who utilised the conditions perfectly. Nehra finished as the most effective bowler, adding two tailenders to Yusuf Pathan's wicket early on to finish with 3 for 13; Bravo showed the power of the slower ball; and Pollock yet again proved the value of experience.
The fact that the Mumbai wicketkeeper Yogesh Takawale pouched three skiers, when top-edges ballooned off the bat, showed the slow nature of the surface. Even Mumbai's batsmen weren't fluent with their strokeplay but a few lucky breaks ensured a comfortable victory. Shane Watson struck twice - taking the wicket of Sanath Jayasuriya who pulled one to deep square leg - and Shane Warne struck with his very first ball, removing Takawale with a slider. However, Robin Uthappa's 34 was enough to take Mumbai past the finish line.
The match, though, was decided by the end of Rajasthan's innings. Pollock, whose decision to field first appeared to be a bold one, nipped out Graeme Smith early though even he would have been surprised at the manner of the dismissal. Smith backed away, took a stride out of his crease, missed an in-cutter from Pollock and kept walking. Had he looked back, he would have seen Takawale fumble the ball but the fact the he kept going allowed an easy stumping.
It was only the 53-run stand between Swapnil Asnodkar and Watson that made some sort of recovery for Rajasthan. Both batsmen put away loose balls and Watson even showed the value of hitting straight against the spin of Sanath Jayasuriya. It took an injudicious swipe from Watson to end the stand - Bravo working him out from around the wicket - and what followed was a forgettable collapse.
Raje forced Mohammad Kaif and Asnodkar to go for big shots and had them caught in the deep, while Kulkarni removed Ravindra Jadeja and Shane Warne with short balls. Jadeja top edged while going for the pull and was athletically caught by Takawale, while Warne's attempted slap through the off side ended in an easier skier for the wicketkeeper.
The tail didn't have much of a chance against the slower balls - indicated aptly by a tantalising one from Bravo that ended the innings. It was Rajasthan's first defeat in six games and they slipped to second place, behind the Kings XI Punjab, in the points table.