New Delhi: When batsmen face Lasith Malinga, they know what's coming at them: several yorkers, some low full tosses, the odd slower ball. Some might not swing but everything will be aimed at the stumps. Knowledge wasn't power for Delhi Daredevils' batsmen, though, as Malinga ripped through them in two spells, claiming the third-best figures in the IPL. His five-wicket haul helped shoot out Delhi for 95, their second-lowest total, and ruin the contest before the sun had set at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
Malinga's performance allowed the Mumbai batsmen to chase in comfortable gear. Davy Jacobs' first stint as Sachin Tendulkar's opening partner was ended early by Morne Morkel and Roelof van der Merwe ran out Ambati Rayudu with a scintillating intercept, slide, turnaround and direct hit from extra cover, but that was it for Delhi. Tendulkar could not be dismissed and without the pressure of a high asking-rate he steered Mumbai to an eight-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare. In a format engineered to produce the exciting finish, this was a mismatch from the fifth over.
Delhi's strength was their top order and in Virender Sehwag and David Warner they possessed the most explosive openers of the tournament. Sehwag began aggressively by launching his first delivery, off Harbhajan Singh, miles in the air only for the ball to fall short of the straight boundary and plug in the outfield. He improved on that attempt the next ball, clearing long-off by a considerable distance, forcing Harbhajan to bowl quicker and flatter.
Enter Malinga, who had been retained by Mumbai, and he re-emphasised his value in no time at all. With his second ball, a pinpoint yorker, Malinga breached Warner's defences. With his fourth, a fast and straight delivery, he hit Unmukt Chand's middle stump.
Chand made the novice error of playing across the line to a Malinga arrow, a mistake Sehwag had committed in the World Cup final. Today Sehwag was watchful, defending Malinga with a straight bat when the line demanded it, but opening the face to guide to the third-man boundary when the width allowed it. He played out the 2011 IPL's first maiden over, seeing off Malinga's second without damage, and set himself to take on the rest of the bowlers.
That did not come to pass, though, for in the fifth over Aaron Finch came down the pitch to Ali Murtaza's left-arm spin, worked the ball off his pads towards short fine leg, and continued running. Sehwag hesitated and then responded, but was beaten by Tendulkar's direct hit. He had swooped on the ball with the agility of a much younger man. It was the decisive moment of the game. Finch did not last long either, slog-sweeping Harbhajan to deep-backward square leg, leaving Delhi on 40 for 4.
Naman Ojha, whose 29 was Delhi's top score, showed a semblance of resistance but his dismissal - caught on the long-off boundary - hastened the end of the innings. Irfan Pathan, bought for $1.9 million and playing his first competitive match in a year, was run out first ball.
And then Malinga returned, and inevitably the yorkers followed. He bowled Venugopal Rao with one, broke Morne Morkel's bat with another before dismissing him with a third next ball. Malinga finished with 5 for 13 - the fifth came with a slower ball - leaving his team with a straightforward chase.