In a tournament that has seen a cocktail of explosive batting and exceptional bowling so far, Mahela Jayawardene (59 in 43 balls) played perhaps the classiest knock to date. But it was a fine mix of timing and fierce ball-striking from Virender Sehwag (95* in 57 balls) that brought the crowd to life as Delhi Daredevils cantered to a nine-wicket win with three overs to spare over Mumbai Indians, their first of the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013, bringing joy to over 30,000 fans who had trooped in to Feroz Shah Kotla on Sunday (April 21) afternoon.
The match turned out to be far more one-sided than it looked at the halfway mark, especially after Rohit Sharma's 43-ball 73 had Delhi looking for cover. Mumbai scored 137 off their last 14 overs to finish with 161 for 4 in 20 overs, a competitive total, after opting to bat. They were indebted to Rohit, whose 96-run stand for the third wicket with Sachin Tendulkar (54 in 47 balls) set things up for Mumbai after the innings appeared to be going nowhere at 24 for 2 after the six Power Play overs. (Related read: Stats from the match)
A change of guard at the top of the order didn't help matters for Mumbai as Dwayne Smith, who opened with Tendulkar, fell cheaply in the quest for quick runs. Mumbai were in trouble then when Dinesh Karthik was unfortunately run out for just two runs. (Also see: Match in pics)
It took Tendulkar a while to get going and Rohit's belligerence at the other end allowed him to settle down, and once he got his eye in, Tendulkar unfurled a couple of lovely on drives, a classic pull shot and some trademark paddle sweeps.
Yet, while Tendulkar batted, it appeared as though Mumbai would end up at least 15 short of where they would have ideally liked to finish. His dismissal in the 17th over, however, brought Kieron Pollard (19* in 10 balls) to the middle and he ended the innings on a high with a six and a four.
Given Mumbai had Lasith Malinga in their ranks, Jayawardene promoted himself to open in place of the out-of-form David Warner in what was a tactical masterstroke. While Sehwag blazed away at the top, Jayawardene provided the calming influence as the duo wiped off 60 runs in the Power Play overs to put the pressure right back on Mumbai.
Malinga's ineffectiveness prompted Ricky Ponting, who didn't get a chance to bat, to turn towards his part-timers, but the move backfired. With Jaspirit Bumrah and Smith taken for plenty, by the time the frontline bowlers came back on, the game was all but sealed in Delhi's favour.
The 151-run opening stand was finally broken when Malinga dismissed Jayawardene in the 16th over, but that wicket was small consolation for Mumbai, who had been bruised badly already. The stand, built in 95 balls, was also a grand welcome for Vivian Richards into the Delhi team, who witnessed a batting display even he would have been very proud of.
The win not only came as a soothing balm to a beleaguered Delhi side, which had lost six games out of six prior to this one, but the change in the batting order allowed Sehwag the luxury of playing with a partner capable of anchoring the chase. Sehwag smashed 13 fours and two sixes even as Mumbai didn't help their cause by bowling to his strengths.