The result, an eight-wicket win, was predictable. Mumbai, the defending champions, were searching for their opening victory of the season; a young Tamil Nadu side was trying to establish an identity for themselves after an exodus of senior players. It wasn't much of a contest: Mumbai spotted a weakness - the batting - within the first session and chipped away at that, inducing mistakes rather than walking away with gimmes.
It was a good toss to win for captain S Badrinath but, as he and the coach, WV Raman, later admitted, the game was all but lost after the first hour. The first ball after the first drinks break saw a wicket fall and two more followed in quick succession. One of those was Badrinath, the team's most consistent batsman and one on the fringes of national selection, who chopped one onto his stumps without opening his account.
Despite chanceless half centuries from Dinesh Karthik and R Srinivasan, Tamil Nadu were shot out for 206 before stumps on day one. It's easy to blame devils - real or otherwise - in the pitch and it was two-paced but, refreshingly, Badrinath and Raman didn't go down that road. "We simply didn't take advantage of the toss," Raman told Cricinfo after the match. "It was the same pitch for both sides. Mumbai just made fewer mistakes."
What, then, caused Tamil Nadu to fold up for 206 and 214? One observation was that the batsmen at times failed to cover the line of the ball quickly enough, not knowing when the ball would suddenly shoot low. When sound technique was needed, Mumbai's batsmen rose to the task on more occasions, covering the line and defending off the meat of the bat, the sound of leather hitting willow reverberating across the ground. Even defensive strokes were met with cheers and claps from the players' tent, and it clearly wasn't meant for fun.
Of the 20 Tamil Nadu wickets that fell, seven were out bowled, and five of those were in the second innings, with the side under pressure to wipe out the deficit and build a substantial lead. Ajit Agarkar got one to sneak between bat and pad on the second ball of the third morning, and Aavishkar Salvi hit the timber in all his three dismissals in the second innings. Badrinath dragged one onto his stumps playing away from his body, R Srinivasan didn't get his foot across to cover the inswing while K Vasudevadas paid the price for not knowing where his off stump was. Mumbai, by contrast, lost just two wickets in the same manner.
The chief wrecker in both innings was Powar with match figures of 9 for 123 and it was clear the home team's batsmen had problems tackling his slow and canny offspinners. Too rarely did the batsmen get adventurous and use their feet against him. Srinivasan survived a few nervy moments and close shouts for leg-before, attempting back-foot strokes. They could have followed the example of the young R Ashwin, whose willingness to get a good stride forward helped counter Powar's spin. Abhishek Nayar's aggressive 105 was the best example of how to counter-attack the conditions. His unusually wide stance helped him get to the pitch of the ball and cart it over the infield.
Perhaps it's hard to expect too much out of a young side, with a few pushed into the big league earlier than expected. Raman spoke of the happy dressing-room atmosphere and a few younger players, in turn, spoke about his positive influence. As Raman put it, with a young side, the only way, is up.