Mumbai: Rare is the day that a team recovers from 1 for 2 to post a 200-plus total. Tuesday evening at the Wankhede Stadium saw hosts Mumbai Indians do just that, thanks to blazing fifties from Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma that delivered the highest total of IPL 6.
Delhi Daredevil lost a wicket first ball of their chase thanks to one of the best catches of the modern era from 40-year-old Ricky Ponting, and the visitors wilted under the pressure of a daunting target to end up 44 runs short. The result took Mumbai to top of the table and level on four points with Rajasthan Royals, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Sunrisers Hyderabad. Delhi's third consecutive defeat was their heaviest.
Mumbai's inning got off to a terrible start as both openers departed in nine deliveries with a solitary run on the board, but a startling counter-attack from Karthik put Delhi onto the back foot quickly. Ponting was the first to fall for a duck, chipping Irfan Pathan to Mahela Jayawardene at mid-off. In the second over, Jayawardene made his presence felt with a direct hit from the same position to run out Sachin Tendulkar for 1.
Fifties to Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma propelled the hosts to 209, the highest total of IPL 6, after which Delhi fizzled out to lose by 44 runs.
But Karthik was not about to back away, and hit three fours in his first 11 balls faced. He then waded into Ashish Nehra in the sixth over with two fours and a six, after which Rohit top-edged a free hit for six over third man. The horse had bolted. Shahbaz Nadeem, the left-arm spinner, was welcomed into the attack with a deft dab from Karthik for four as Mumbai's run rate crossed seven. Three fours off Umesh Yadav in the ninth over carried the score to 75 for 2, which Karthik bringing up his second fifty of the season in just 29 balls. At this stage, Rohit was a silent observer with 12 as the partnership reached 74.
Stunningly, Karthik just continued to back himself to beat the fielders. The IPL debutant Jeevan Mendis was late cut for four and Nadeem slog-swept for six and slashed past extra cover to raise Mumbai's 100. Taking a cue, Rohit drove Mendis for six over extra cover to move into the 20s. Consecutive fours to Karthik off Irfan took Mumbai to 124 for 2 going into the second strategic time-out. This was not slogging, but clean hitting from Karthik.
The first two balls of the 15th over were edged and paddled to the boundary by Rohit, after which Morne Morkel got Karthik to drive a catch to extra cover off the fourth. He had fallen four short of his Twenty20 best. Kieron Pollard smacked 13 off six balls before driving his seventh to mid-off, but Ambati Rayudu smashed 24 off eight balls of which 20 came in four consecutive deliveries from Irfan. Rohit - who had collected a welcome fifty off 42 balls in between Pollard's carefree hitting - finished the innings with three sixes off Nehra, who bled 20 in the last over.
Chasing 210 is a daunting task and Delhi were rocked first ball by a terrific catch from Ponting at short cover, leaping horizontally to his right as Unmukt Chand got a leading edge off Harbhajan Singh. It could have been two wickets in three balls for Harbhajan but Lasith Malinga dropped a catch at short fine leg when Jayawardene top-edged a sweep. Delhi were 1 for 1 in one over.
The drop cost little, because Mitchell Johnson struck in his first over with the big wicket of Jayawardene, edging a drive to Karthik. David Warner was left to guide the chase and did so well until, having collected 11 runs off three Johnson deliveries, he chipped the fourth straight to deep cover for a 61 off 37 balls. Warner's innings mixed smart running and four huge sixes - the pick of the lot was a swiveled pull off Johnson - but his exit hurt Delhi. That was followed by Mendis' first-ball dismissal, popping a return catch to Pollard, as the visitors lost two wickets in four balls.
With the asking rate crossing 13, young Manprit Juneja was left to wage a lone battle. Irfan (10) swung Pragyan Ojha to a boundary rider, Kedar Jhadav (1) popped a return catch to Malinga, Nadeem (2) and spooned Ojha to point. A direct hit from Rishi Dhawan cut off Juneja on 49 and some free swinging from Morkel (23 not out off nine balls) ensured Delhi were not bowled out.