Theres almost a touch of voyeurism in the manner in which the spider-cam sneaks up stealthily behind an unsuspecting bowler or slip fielder during an IPL contest. At times,the roving brute just stalls indefinitely,inconsiderate about whether the bowler is ready to bowl or not. Like it did during the eighth over of the Mumbai Indians innings at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. While these discrepancies are more a result of technical glitches on most occasions,the chief protagonists on view this time around deserved some closer scrutiny. And not just because Ajit Agarkar and Rohit Sharma were playing against each other at a venue they call home together for 10 months of the year.
For a major part of his career,Agarkar,now 34,plied his trade with a perennial tag of potential star around his neck. He remained the next big hope from Mumbai and the man whose destiny was to become Indias much-vaunted world-class all-rounder. As his star began to fade,Agarkar unwittingly handed the tag down to Sharma. And here they were,on opposite sides,in front of a crowd with mixed sentiments,trying their best to outwit each other.
This was more than just a battle between bat and ball. At the start of his run-up-with the spider-cam just inches above his head Agarkar,skipper of the Mumbai team in domestic cricket but who has never found favour with his hometown franchise. Facing him was Sharma,bought by Mumbai Indians for a hefty sum and the lead-man for his team. With Ambati Rayudu having run himself out earlier in the over,and the score reading 31 for 3,the stylish right-hander also was the last hope for the hosts in what was turning into a shambolic outing.
The first delivery was defended solidly,before Sharma top-edged Agarkar for a boundary with a mistimed pull-shot – the third such boundary for him in this knock. Undeterred,the seasoned pacer stuck to his line,kept his statemate on check,and in his next over got his man caught in the deep off another top-edge.
Not for the first time,Agarkar had accounted for the key wicket in the opposition line-up. And here with Sharmas wicket for 29 one of only two double-figure scores in the Mumbai innings he had removed the only real obstacle in Delhis quest of running through the home teams batting.
First sub-100 total
Despite an attacking 33 from skipper Harbhajan Singh,Mumbai couldnt avoid absolute humiliation,being bowled out for 92 the first team to be dismissed for below 100 in IPL V. The target proved hardly a challenge for the mighty Delhi batting line-up,though they did lose three wickets in the bargain,as they defeated Mumbai Indians for the first time since 2009.
There was little that went right for Mumbai from the time Virender Sehwag won the toss and elected to field on what was expected to be an up-and-down wicket. And their umpteenth opening combination in the absence of the injured Sachin Tendulkar didnt quite come to the party. Having come into the tournament with a gargantuan reputation,Richard Levis frailties against spin have been exposed a bit too early for both him and his teams sake.
Nadeems spin trick
On Monday,Levi fell prey to a left-arm spinner for the third time in five innings,with Shahbaz Nadeem from Jharkhand claiming his scalp. Fellow South African Davy Jacobs too had fallen in similar fashion in Nadeems first over,completely missing an attempted sweep against the turn. And just like that,Mumbai had been reduced to 7/2 after four overs. After Agarkar won the bragging rights against Sharma,the pacy duo of Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav mopped up the rest,as the Daredevils romped towards the top of the league table.
Mumbai,meanwhile,will be left to lick their wounds for the next five days-their second substantial break in IPL V-before they try to bounce back against Kings XI Punjab on Sunday.