(The Times Of India)
In Twenty20 cricket, very few matches follow a script but the Delhi Daredevils-Mumbai Indians encounter was always going one way. Lasith Malinga ensured that the devils were not up for the dare in their first match of the IPL-4 at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Sunday.
The Sri Lankan paceman went from villain to hero for Mumbai in a week’s time, claiming 5/13 in 3.4 overs to bundle out the Daredevils for 95 in 17.4 overs. Harbhajan Singh chipped in with 2/14 in three overs.
MI skipper Sachin Tendulkar (46 n.o., 50b, 3×4, 1×6) and Rohit Sharma (27 n.o., 30b, 3×4) never broke a sweat as they cruised to the target to claim a eight-wicket win with 19 balls to spare. It was as comprehensive a victory as possible in a Twenty20 contest.
The Mukesh Ambani-owned side were the boss on the field from the moment Malinga got hold of the ball. His second delivery in the match cannoned into opener David Warner’s middle-stump, who was a tad too late on the shot.
Malinga, who had dismissed Tendulkar cheaply in the World Cup final in Mumbai last week to the chagrin of the whole of India, made it a double-strike as 17-year-old Delhi batsman Unmukt Chanda’s stay in the middle lasted just two minutes with the ball again finding the middle stump.
Even Virender Sehwag, who began the innings with a towering six off Harbhajan in the first over of the match, treated Malinga with the highest respect. The Delhi skipper played out the first maiden of IPL-4 in the fourth over of the innings.
Delhi’s hopes of posting a competitive total ended with Tendulkar sending back his opposite number Sehwag for 19 (16b, 2×4, 1×6) with a pin-point throw from short fine-leg. Naman Ojha (29, 30b, 2×4, 1×6) and Venugopal Rao (26, 25b, 3×4) tried to resurrect the innings from a dismal 40/4 in the seventh over with a 42-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza ended the stubborn partnership by prizing out Ojha before Malinga returned for a second spell.
And just 10 Malinga deliveries were enough to pack off the Delhi lower-order. Venugopal was too late in getting his bat down to a ball that landed on his middle stump. Morne Morkel (2) broke a bat in his efforts to keep another Malinga toe-crusher out but soon enough his stumps went cartwheeling. Malinga completed the third-best figures in IPL foxing Ashok Dinda with a slower delivery to complete a five-wicket.
Only Sohail Tanvir (6/14) and Anil Kumble (5/5) have recorded better figures than Malinga in IPL. But more than the figures Delhi will find it hard to recover from the mental scars left by a “Slinga” Malinga.