Dinesh Karthik rescued Mumbai Indians from a potential batting crisis with a powerful half-century, helping Mumbai recover from a horrific start and claim a 44-run win, in the process sending Delhi Daredevils hurtling to a third consecutive loss in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013.
Rohit Sharma, who scored 74, proved an able ally as Delhi were buried under the mountain of 209 runs, the highest total in the tournament so far, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday (April 9). David Warner scored a half-century in Delhi's chase, but it was far from sufficient on the day as their batting crumbled yet again, even as Virender Sehwag continued to miss out on the action.
Opting to bat, Mumbai lost their openers within the first two overs. Ricky Ponting, the captain, fell to Irfan Pathan, before Sachin Tendulkar was run out, leaving Mumbai at 1 for 2. It was then that Karthik stepped up and blasted away, demoralising Delhi with each shot. Some bad bowling didn't help either, as Karthik continued with his good form and was especially efficient through the legside.
Delhi constantly rotated their pace bowlers after the early wickets, attempting to make more inroads into the Mumbai batting. But Karthik batted sensibly, making the most of a poor Ashish Nehra over, claiming 16 runs off it. He never looked back - Nehra kept bowling short, and Karthik kept pulling him to fine-leg. At the other end, Rohit, who looked jittery at the start, managed to claim the maximum from a free hit, despite mistiming his shot.
Led by Karthik, Mumbai raced past the 50-run mark before Karthik reached his half-century in just 29 balls. Mahela Jayawardene, the Delhi captain, tried to change his mode of attack by bringing on his spinners. But Shahbaz Nadeem and Jeevan Mendis came in for similar treatment, as Karthik and Rohit soon had 132 runs to show for the third wicket, much to the delight of a packed Mumbai crowd.
Morne Morkel finally put Karthik's knock to an end with a delivery, which seemed to swing late to catch the bottom-edge and end up with Mendis in the covers. But even after Karthik fell, with the scoreboard reading 133 for 3, things didn't change. Rohit took charge in the final few overs, with Kieron Pollard (13) first and then Ambati Rayudu (24) for company. Mumbai added 76 runs in 32 balls courtesy some big hits, including three sixes in the final over, leaving Delhi with much to do.
Delhi got off to a miserable start, losing Unmukt Chand off the very first ball of the innings, Ponting pulling off a remarkable one-handed catch at extra cover, despite slipping during his attempt. Jayawardene departed not too long thereafter, leaving Delhi struggling at 13 for 2.
Warner and Manprit Juneja led the fightback. The two put up 82 runs for the third wicket as Warner imposed himself on the bowlers, scoring with ease on both sides of the wicket even as Juneja excelled in the supporting role. As long as their partnership lasted, it looked as though Delhi were in with a chance, racing to 84 for 2 in ten overs.
However, having reached his half-century, Warner fell to Mitchell Johnson. Warner first took consecutive boundaries off Johnson, but was deceived by a slower ball and lifted it to the offside, where Rayudu took a comfortable catch.
Jeevan Mendis, the new man, didn't last long as the bowling became restrictive. With runs drying up, Irfan Pathan attempted to lift Pragyan Ojha over the ropes, but could only gift a catch to Johnson.
At that point, Delhi needed 84 runs in 30 balls - a task which proved beyond them. They lost four more wickets, including that of Juneja (49), who was run out, as Mumbai won by a massive 44 runs.