New Delhi: He was India's original man for Twenty20 cricket. Dinesh Karthik guided India to win in their first ever Twenty20 International in South Africa, and led Tamil Nadu to victory in the country's first domestic Twenty20 tournament.
That Karthik, once India's first choice Test wicketkeeper but now not a regular member of the team, would be writing one more such script to keep Delhi in the hunt for a berth in the semi-final of the inaugural IPL with a thrilling five-wicket win over Mumbai here on Saturday, might be coincidental as well as predictable. Cricket indeed writes such stories.
Karthik's 32-ball unbeaten 56, laced with four immaculately timed boundaries and three sixes saw Delhi home along with Farveez Maharoof (20 not out) with a ball to spare. Needing eight from the final over, Maharoof struck two vital fours from the last two balls off Ashish Nehra, who plays first-class cricket for Delhi.
LIVING TO FIGHT: Virender Sehwag's team is still in the race for the IPL semi-finals.
Desperately needing a win from their last match in the league stages, Delhi were chasing 177. And having lost Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan, the trio who has done the bulk of the scoring, Delhi's middle order was faced with a test of character.
For a diminutive batsman, Karthik got stuck into the Mumbai bowlers when the home side appeared to be in the doldrums on 89-4, which included the wickets of Shikhar Dhawan and Tillekeratne Dilshan in consecutive balls off Dwayne Smith.
To add to their woes, Mumbai had a shocking night on the field with repeated lapses, the ball going through Andre Nel's hands for a boundary being an instance.
It was the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium here that saw the renaissance of Sanath Jayasuriya more than 12 years ago. The Sri Lankan opener defied logic and rewrote cricketing chapters with his pyrotechnics on his way to leading his side to World Cup glory.
And at 38, Jayasuriya continued to ridicule notions of age while hammering the Delhi bowlers to embarrasment as Mumbai piled up 176-8 and agony for Virender Sehwag's men on Saturday, who were in desperate need of a win to advance to the semi-finals.
Jayasuriya carted 66 runs in trademark fashion off 42 balls, assisted by five sixes and six fours. But there began Mumbai's misery as the veteran batsman wasn't backed up from the other end as the bowlers, led by Vijaykumar Yomahesh's 4-36, staged an impressive fightback, before Robin Uthappa smoked an unbeaten 23-ball 46 to add bulk to the score.
The Kotla crowd got their pay-per-view encounter first up, with Glenn McGrath renewing his age-old rivalry with Sachin Tendulkar. However, Tendulkar's early fall and Jayasuriya's firing blade set up an intriguing battle with Delhi's bowlers.
Brett Geeves bore serious brunt of Jayasuriya's onslaught, carted for 50 from his four overs, but McGrath and Amit Mishra's miserly ways kept the brakes on Mumbai's scoring, as did untimely dismissals of Dwayne Smith, Abhishek Nayar and Shaun Pollock.
Delhi, who needed a definite win from the game and some luck from other fixtures, saw their previous game washed out here against Kolkata, while Mumbai played out a thriller against Mohali where they went down by a run.
Delhi: Virender Sehwag (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Shikhar Dhawan, Manoj Tiwary, Brett Geeves, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dinesh Karthik, Farveez Maharoof, Amit Mishra, V Yomahesh, Glenn McGrath.
Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar (captain), Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Utahppa, Dwayne Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Shaun Pollock, Pinal Shah, Siddharth Chitnis, Dhaval Kulkarni, Andre Nel, Ashish Nehra.