The glum look on their faces told the story. Skipper Rohit Sharma, after yet another failure with the bat, was locked in a deep conversation with icon Sachin Tendulkar. Mentor Anil Kumble sat motionless next to Lasith Malinga whereas fielding coach Jonty Rhodes looked on helplessly sitting alongside assistant coach Robin Singh. Not too far from them, Ricky Ponting, who had joined the team hours earlier as an advisor, exchanged notes with chief coach John Wright.
All the expertise in that dugout couldn’t prevent Mumbai Indians, the defending champions, fell to their fourth defeat in a row to sit at the bottom of the table.
Having gotten off to an uninspiring start, Mumbai had the chances to set it right against fellow strugglers Delhi Daredevils, but in the battle of the bottom dwellers, it was the Delhi outfit that came out on top. With the comfortable six wicket win, Delhi moved to four points and the sixth spot.
Out of the 12 matches these two sides have played against each other, the team winning the toss has lost on seven occasions. Make it eight after Sunday.
For the fourth consecutive game, Mumbai’s batting proved to be their undoing as yet another listless performance resulted in the side making just 125/6 in their allotted overs despite Kieron Pollard facing 30 deliveries and remaining unbeaten till the end. The score meant that Delhi did not have to push the scoring, and guided by a 40 off 34 balls from opener Murali Vijay, the side recorded a comfortable win with more than an over to spare.
For Mumbai, Michael Hussey, who hasn’t been able to give the team the desired starts, made way for Sharma at the top while big-hitting New Zealander Corey Anderson came in at No. 3. Sadly for Mumbai, their batting troubles continued despite the shake-up.
The Sharjah wicket is typically known for its high-scoring nature with average total of 170 on this ground. But after nearly six matches, the wicket had little to offer to the batsmen and the Delhi bowlers made the most of the slow conditions. Pacers Jaydev Unadkat (2/29) and Wayne Parnell (1/17), and spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (1/19) struck early to strangle the Mumbai batting unit in their stipulated 20 overs.
The bowlers exploited the conditions and kept the Mumbai batsmen guessing by frequently changing the pace and using a lot of variations. In fact, barring Mohammed Shami and Unadkat, all Delhi bowlers had their economies under six-an-over.
Lack of pace in the pitch didn’t allow the Mumbai batsmen hit through the line and in trying to force the issue, they sacrificed their wickets. Anderson, Aditya Tare and Ambati Rayudu were all out in a similar fashion — caught at the deep while attempting to clear the fence.
A late blitz Kieron Pollard, who looked quite scratchy early on, and cameos by CM Gautam and Harbhajan Singh in the final five overs took them to an average total. “Their bowlers made it very difficult for us. The constant fall of wickets made it even tougher. We were not able to get in a partnership and it was not easy for a new guy to get in there,” Pollard said.
Delhi batsmen were hardly troubled in the chase. Vijay showed calmness and patience in testing conditions while skipper Kevin Pietersen chipped in with an unbeaten 26 to finish things off. The Englishman would be satisfied that his side has gained some momentum going into the India leg of this season. His counterpart, however, would be desperate to seek some home comfort when Mumbai resume their campaign later this week in India.