Setting a target and then defending it is not something the Mumbai team have been comfortable with in the IPL so far. Of the nine matches that Sachin Tendulkar's men had played before taking on Hyderabad at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium on Sunday, they had batted first only thrice, losing two of these three matches. And even after putting on 178 on the board, the target never looked safe for Mumbai.
Not because Adam Gilchrist and Rohit Sharma were desperate to win a rare game for Hyderababd, but because Shaun Pollock — Mumbai's pace spearhead — was on the bench due to back strain.
But Dilhara Fernando filled the void created by Pollock's absence and gave Mumbai a double breakthrough — picking up Gilchrist and Sharma off successive balls — to help his teammates breath easy for the rest of the game.
And by the time Y Venugopal Rao and DB Ravi Teja started a late charge in the 12th over, half the chairs in the stadium had been emptied and it was always going to be too little too late for the home team.
Even if the public announcer got those present at the ground into the game to cheer the home team, scoring 73 off the last five overs was going to be very tough.
Eventually, Hyderabad fell short by 25 runs, giving Mumbai their sixth straight win. The win also helped Mumbai maintain their fourth position in the points table.
Earlier, having lost eight of their 10 matches so far, Hyderabad's stand-in skipper Gilchrist had made it clear before the match that his team was preparing for the future.
Given the scenario, nobody expected the Hyderabadis, including Sania Mirza, to turn up and cheer the home team. Still, it was almost a full house and why not? After all, Tendulkar was playing in the cyber city.
And even if they didn't care for what Gilchrist would have done, they wanted to see Sanath Jayasuriya dazzle at the other end. And the Sri Lankan did so for a brief while.
After two unbeaten innings of 114 and 48 at over two-runs-a-ball, Jayasuriya batted only for 15 minutes before holing out to deep square leg.
But by then the initial damage had been done. Off the 15 balls he faced, six raced to the fence while two sailed over it. As a result, when Jayasuriya fell into the trap set by off-spinner Rao, he had scored 36 runs — all off boundaries — and the scoreboard read 39.
Once Jayasuriya departed, the crowds awaited to see Tendulkar make an impact. And for a brief while, he gave an impression that he was not going to disappoint them, before miscuing a lofted shot off Shahid Afridi — the pick of the Hyderabad bowlers — and saw debutant Chamara Silva taking a clean catch.
Jayasuriya c Rudra b Rao (15 b) 36
Tendulkar c Silva b Afridi (19) 23
Thornely lbw b Afridi (18) 8
Nayar c Rohit b Rudra (24) 38
Uthappa c Afridi b Rao (16) 7
Bravo b Rudra (17) 30
Shah b Rudra (6) 10
Takawale not out (5) 5
Raje not out (2) 1
Extras: (lb-11, w-7, nb-2) 20
Total: (for 7 wickets in 20 overs) 178
Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-72, 3-72, 4-96, 5-150, 6-156, 7-175
Bowling: Vijaykumar 2-0-24-0, Zoysa 3-0-37-0, Rao 3-0-25-2, Rudra 4-0-35-3, Afridi 4-0-23-2, Ojha 4-0-23-0
Gilchrist c Shah b Fernando (16 b) 13
Afridi c Thornely b Bravo (1) 0
Rohit lbw b Fernando (10) 6
Silva c Takawale b Nayar (14) 17
Rao c Shah b Bravo (38) 58
Teja b Bravo (27) 37
Zoysa not out (7) 10
Das run out (5) 2
Rudra not out (3) 3
Extras: (b-1, lb-2, w-3, nb-1) 7
Total: (for 7 wkts in 20 ovrs) 153
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-20, 3-20, 4-56, 5-130, 6-136, 7-145
Bowling: Nehra 4-0-29-0, Bravo 4-0-24-3, Fernando 4-0-39-2, Raje 2-0-19-0, Nayar 3-0-18-1, Thornely 1-0-8-0, Jayasuriya 2-0-13-0