Deccan Chargers had the chance to retain Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds, but let both of them go, and paid the price on Sunday. The pair came together with Mumbai wobbling at 70 for 4 in the 10th over, having lost three wickets for the addition of no run in six balls, and proceeded to pulverise their former side in a 102-run stand that came off just 65 balls. Mumbai followed the pyrotechnics of their Deccan imports with a typically clinical show in the field, to surge to a four-point lead at the top of the IPL table.
Having galloped to a strong score, Mumbai seized control with three pieces of brilliance, all of which involved Lasith Malinga slinging the stumps down. The first was a stunning yorker that the aggressive Shikhar Dhawan did well to save his toes from, though his leg stump was not so fortunate. Cameron White came in at Dhawan's fall and sucked the momentum out of the chase after struggling to get bat on ball in his short stay. It ended when he pushed his seventh ball to mid-off and set off on an ambitious single. Malinga swooped on the ball and fired in a throw that clattered into the stumps at the non-striker's end to catch White short. Kumar Sangakkara fought hard against the tide, before Malinga returned to blow his middle and off pegs out with a superfast, low full toss. The chase was as good as over when Davy Jacobs stumped Daniel Christian while standing up to Munaf Patel.
In reality, Deccan never recovered from the Rohit-Symonds show, especially the last two overs that bled 40 runs. Symonds began the closing brutality by smashing Dale Steyn's length bowling for two fours and a six in the penultimate over. Rohit then took over, flaying Daniel Christian for three sixes and a four in the 20th. Christian invited trouble by serving up two full tosses and two length balls at a hittable pace. Rohit, who finds a new plane when he is batting in the IPL, tucked in with huge blows down the ground, the last of which left Christian floored in his follow through.
Mumbai's innings followed three distinct phases. The first was guided by Davy Jacobs' enterprise against the new ball, while Sachin Tendulkar played the support role. It's not easy to take the spotlight off Tendulkar, especially so on his birthday, but Jacobs managed it for the first five overs. He began with a reverse slap off Amit Mishra in the opening over, before thumping Pragyan Ojha for a straight six. He proceeded to shred Ishant Sharma's shoddy lines for fours on either side of the wicket, and scrambled Christian's lengths with quick feet to loot two more boundaries.
Tendulkar survived a close shout for lbw in the first over before trotting inside the line to Steyn's first ball to whip him through midwicket. Thereafter, Tendulkar seemed almost over-eager to impose himself by charging out to Ishant and Steyn, who both operated around the 145-kph mark and gave him nothing to drive. Still, Mumbai managed to reach 47 in the first five overs, before Deccan hit back.
Jacobs fell attempting an ambitious heave off Ishant, but Tendulkar counter-punched with two boundaries in the same over. However, the advent of spin with spread-out fields stalled Mumbai's progress. Mishra struck twice in three balls, beating Tendulkar in the flight and enticing Ambati Rayudu to hole out. Soon after, Kieron Pollard miscued an against-the-turn paddle off his first ball, to leave Mumbai reeling. It was time for their middle-order muscle to rescue them.
Symonds and Rohit checked in cautiously as Mumbai went boundary-less for 40 balls, but switched gears rapidly thereafter. Rohit began the assault by sweeping Ojha for four before Symonds fore-handed a short ball from Christian through long-off. With Rohit timing his drives particularly well, Ishant kept trying to tuck him up, but Rohit responded with a couple of strong pulls. Around that time, the owners of the Deccan Chargers franchise must have started wondering if they had got it horribly wrong at the auctions. By the end of it all, they must have been kicking themselves.