Tournament heavyweights Delhi Daredevils crashed to a 98-run defeat against an inspired Mumbai Indians outfit that seemed determined to set the lopsided head-to-head record straight and, in the process, went to the top of the points table. Quickfire sixties from Sachin Tendulkar and Saurabh Tiwary took Mumbai to an imposing 218 but a batting line-up capable of overhauling the biggest of targets was bowled out with more than three overs to spare.
Delhi were already handicapped by the loss of Gautam Gambhir to a hamstring pull early in the match so it was up to the middle order to anchor a big chase. But the loss of a steadying hand in Gambhir showed up as the likes of Virender Sehwag and Tillakaratne Dilshan performed well below expectation. The backup for those heavyweights had little time in which to plot and execute a Yusuf Pathan-like counterattack.
Dilshan began the chase on an audacious note by slapping the first ball over mid-off for four. It was an emphatic way to get off the mark after two consecutive ducks, and Delhi motored along at a rate marginally faster than Mumbai after three overs. Mumbai had to dislodge at least one of the opening duo of Dilshan and Virender Sehwag, and the first breakthrough came through Lasith Malinga in the fourth over. After firing it in the blockhole to keep Dilshan under check, he bowled a slower ball and sent the off stump for a spin as the batsman swished at thin air.
The expectations on Sehwag only increased but he was the first victim of double-strike by Dwayne Bravo in the seventh over. Trying to clear long-off, he made contact off the toe-edge of the bat straight down Ambati Rayudu's throat. Four balls later, AB de Villiers dragged one onto his stumps and the momentum had firmly swung in Mumbai's favour. A flurry of boundaries by Dinesh Karthik - three in a row - raised some hope, but he too joined the exodus, courtesy a brilliant stumping down the leg side by Aditya Tare. When Manhas perished in the tenth over, Delhi had lost half their side, and with Gambhir indisposed, the match had ceased to be a contest.
The pitch was nothing like the minefield which forced the abandonment of the one-dayer between India and Sri Lanka a few months ago. Evenly paced, Tendulkar showed just how easy it was to get to the pitch and pick the gaps with deft touches and delicate clips. It was similar to the way he started his innings in Gwalior, where he scored a memorable 200, squirting the ball past the gaps effortlessly.
Farveez Maharoof's one-dimensional bowling - overusing the legcutter - made it easier for Tendulkar to plan his shots. After slicing Maharoof past backward point, he made Delhi pay for not placing a slip as he guided the next ball to third man. He then chipped down the track, got inside the line and played a glorious on drive past midwicket to give Delhi some anxious moments.
He brought up his fifty, off just 23 balls, with a paddle to fine leg. Mishra had Tendulkar caught at long-off by the substitute Yogesh Nagar, who was earlier in the news for pulling off a one-handed blinder at mid-off to get rid of Sanath Jayasuriya. Filling in for Gambhir, Nagar had to propel himself backwards a long way but managed to time his leap to perfection.
Significantly, Tiwary and Rayudu didn't allow things to drift after Tendulkar departed. The over after his dismissal went for just three but the pair ensured they picked at least one boundary in every over during their 71-run stand, in just short of seven overs. If Tendulkar was all nonchalance, Tiwary and Rayudu were all about brute power. Tiwary employed the slog sweep against the spinners, staying in the crease and muscling three sixes. Rayudu used his feet a lot more, regularly chipping down the track to clear the rope. Mishra tried firing it flatter and shorter with the hope of getting the ball to shoot through but the batsmen were alert enough to slap them away.
By the time Delhi dislodged the pair, Mumbai were already on 193 with a little more than two overs left. Promoting Tiwary and Rayudu over the two West Indians - Bravo and Pollard - had proved to be a productive move. The Caribbean duo combined to push the score to 218 - the highest in this tournament so far - which was more than enough to stamp their dominance.