Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it Jonty Rhodes? No its 38-year-old Ricky Ponting. And as he flung himself to his right,staying airborne with his outstretched right-hand clasping the ball,the Mumbai Indians skipper looked every bit a superman,the blue jersey only adding to the imagery.
Ponting had just provided the IPL with its Jonty Rhodes moment. And he knew it. His first reaction might have seemed to be one of shock. But it was soon replaced by one of awe at his feat before being engulfed by his teammates,including Harbhajan Singh. Twice already in IPL VI he had teased by coming close to plucking catches out of thin air,the ball just missing his grasp. Playing at the Wankhede Stadium with the crowd behind him for the first time ever,he clung on and how.
Pontings stunning effort is sure to end up among the most talked-about events in the IPL VIs highlight reel. Itll certainly be the moment by which Mumbai Indians comprehensive 44-run victory over Delhi Daredevils will be remembered.
Till the time Ponting produced his moment of glory by dismissing Unmukt Chand off the first ball of Delhis innings,the evening had belonged to Dinesh Karthik. The Tamil Nadu right-hander is unlikely to figure in any top-10 list of dangerous batsmen in T20 cricket. Probably hell struggle to get a notable mention even in the Mumbai Indians line-up,sandwiched between Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting at the top and a legion of hard-hitting bullies in the middle,namely Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard.
No more unsung
On Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium,27-year-old Karthik decided to break away from his reputation of being an unsung battler in the star-studded Mumbai Indians batting line-up and show that he too could take on a bowling attack of pedigree and put them to the sword. With the likes of Morne Morkel,Umesh Yadav and Ashish Nehra steaming in on a lively Wankhede wicket,it was no mean attack that he had to contend with either.
Not to forget the situation of the match when he walked into bat. Ponting had just played out a maiden over from Irfan Pathan,struggling to middle a single delivery,before meekly tapping a length delivery to Mahela Jayawardene at mid-off.
Two balls later,Sachin Tendulkar had literally run himself out by backing up too far,with the Delhi skipper scoring with a valuable direct-hit.
And with the score reading 1/2 and an out-of-form Rohit Sharma for company,Karthik had his work cut out if anything. He had,however,been Mumbais only real batting star in the tournament to date,having scored a fighting 60 against Bangalore in the season opener before helping his team rebuild with 36 in Chennai.
Here,he launched into a counter-attack straight away,starting off with square-cutting Nehra for a four in the second over. Inexplicably the Delhi bowlers lost the plot completely after a momentous beginning and kept allowing Karthik to exhibit his back-foot play.
Nehra was pulled for a six and two fours in his next over before Yadav got similar treatment. All of a sudden with Karthik at the helm,Mumbai had regained the initiative. And they never looked like letting go off it.
The boundary barrage continued as Karthik kept up the attack,eventually perishing for 86 off just 48 balls,falling short of a well-deserved ton.
Coming to party,late
If Karthik looked in great touch,Sharma looked terribly out of it at the other end. But his dominant partners dismissal in a way allowed the Mumbai right-handers inherent aggression to come through. And he took centre-stage towards the end,unleashing hell on Nehra in particular,smashing him for three sixes in his last over,taking Mumbai over the 200-run mark.
Though Delhi did see a glimmer of hope in David Warners daredevilry,it didnt last long enough. And eventually the belligerence of Karthik and Sharma proved too much for the visitors but not before Ponting had produced the OMG moment of the tournament with his acrobatics.